Uganda, a small country in Southeast Africa, passed a draconian anti-gay law that punishes homosexuals with life imprisonment. The country is estimated to have about 500,000 gays of its total population of 31 million. Homosexuality was already a crime in Uganda with British colonial era anti-gay laws having provision for a 14 year imprisonment. The new anti-gay law, which was also called “Kill the Gays Bill” as it previously prescribed death penalty, has raised the penalty to life imprisonment.
The bill was introduced for the first time by Mr. David Bahati, a politician and Member of Parliament of Uganda, in October 2009. The original bill had provision for death penalty for people found engaging in homosexual acts. However, due to pressure from international communities and western countries promising to cut financial aid to Uganda, the death penalty provision was dropped out. The final version of the bill, as passed on December 20, 2103, has provision for life imprisonment for people found engaging in gay sex second time or if one of the partners is a minor or HIV positive. Promoting or supporting homosexuality or not reporting about homosexuals would also attract imprisonment for individuals, companies, media and NGOs.
The new law would get enacted when signed by Uganda’s President and is expected to be misused by law enforcement agencies to torture, intimidate and abuse homosexuals in Uganda. The law would be applicable for people living in Uganda as well as Ugandans living in other countries. It has caused an outrage among human right activities worldwide and few western countries are planning to take action by cutting financial aid and other non-economic measures.
Despite its worldwide criticism, the bill has received support from Ugandans, who feel the country has the right to pass laws that protect its children. Mr. Bahati and people who support his anti-gay bill claim, “Homosexuals are at least 12 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals; homosexual teachers are at least 7 times more likely to molest a pupil; homosexual teachers are estimated to have committed at least 25 percent of pupil molestation; 40 percent of molestation assaults were made by those who engage in homosexuality”. Mr. Bahati is also of the opinion that a lot of money is being spent by western country in Uganda to lure innocent children towards homosexuality.
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