Editor’s note: For the most up-to-date news on Uganda’s Kill The Gays bill, visit our Uganda section.
The Uganda Kill The Gays Bill, aka the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) may be quickly on its way to becoming law, as the Uganda lame duck parliament’s session comes to a fast close, possibly on May 11 — just days from now. The bill, infamous around the world for its provision mandating the death penalty for anyone convicted of the “crime” of homosexuality, anyone convicted of same-sex rape, anyone who is classified as a “serial offender,” even anyone with HIV, may or may not include the death penalty provision, according to author of the bill, David Bahati, who claimed last week he would “concede” the provision if it would move the bill into law. Many believe that concession to be a ruse. Contrary to a published AP report, the death penalty provision has not been dropped.
“I know that the process of legislation is moving forward,” said Bahati, according to a report from Warren Throckmorton, who writes, “Today, public hearings on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill took place before the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee, according to the bill author, David Bahati. In an interview, Bahati said that the Uganda Reform Commission and several religious leaders were on the list of those slated to provide testimony.”
“Bahati declined to say that the bill would be voted on next week, saying that the actual end of Parliament is not until May 18 when the 9th Parliament also begins. According to Charles Tuhaise, a researcher for parliament’s research office, most of the business will be concluded by the end of next week. He told me that the hearings for the Marriage and Divorce Bill have concluded and those for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill began today. Tuhaise said the antigay bill hearings will probably conclude on Monday.”
No word yet from Uganda President Museveni, who recently stated he wanted the Kill The Gays Bill dropped, on whether he would sign it.
According to trusted reports, including Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin, the AHB’s chances may be growing, as Uganda is currently experiencing great citizen unrest, and parliament sees passage of the bill as an opportunity to create a “diversion.”
“Uganda has been rocked in recent weeks with rioting and demonstrations against rising gas prices,” Burroway writes. “The government has been responding with extraordinarily violent crackdown on dissent. One opposition leader was seriously injured and fled to neighboring Kenya for treatment. The disturbances even spilled onto the floor of Parliament, which had to suspend its session temporarily on Tuesday.”
Relying on information from GayUganda, Burroway adds ”that forces behind the bill see as an opportunistic diversion for the violence that is racking the country,” but adds that the “diversion also can work both ways. With most of the media’s attention focus on the ongoing violence and protests, it could also be that the bill’s supporters see an opening for it to be passed when nobody’s paying attention.”
The Kill The Gays Bill also mandates jail time for those who know of homosexuals but do not report them to authorities within 24 hours and offers a maximum of seven years prison time for even renting a room to someone who is homosexual. Any assistance to a gay man or lesbian would be considered criminal.
The bill reportedly was shelved in March, but Bahati — who has said he wants to “kill every last gay person” — appeared defiant, stating at the time, “I think that the government is aware that 95 percent of Ugandans do not condone homosexuality.”
One week later, supporters of the bill, lead by right-wing zealot Pastor Martin Ssempa, presented to Speaker of the Uganda Parliament, Edward Ssekandi, a petition reportedly carrying two million signatures, demanding the “Kill The Gays” bill — also known as the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” — become law.
The “Kill The Gays” bill, which has also become known as the “Bahati bill,” is necessary — according to the team of Pastor Ssempa and David Bahati — because homosexuals are supposedly “recruiting children” in Uganda, and, the two claim, paying them large sums of money to have same-gender sex or to become homosexual. The petition reportedly came with a list of nineteen organizations that they claim are “promoting” homosexuality in Uganda.
But no one has ever provided actual proof. Bahati, who has a Cardiff University MBA, has been repeatedly asked in this country by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for any proof of these allegations. Bahati promised to provide it but never has.
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