When you live in a country where human rights and the equality of every man and woman is revered, it is difficult to comprehend a society where Parliamentarians are considering the death penalty for people who are gay, lesbian or transgendered.
Uganda’s gay agenda reemerged on the international scene with this week’s murder of gay rights activist David Kato, who was bludgeoned to death in his home in Kampala.
Mr. Kato had been astounded to see a headline in a Ugandan newspaper, Rolling Stone (no relation to the American publication) in October 2010 which read “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Homos Leak”. The article contained his name and home address, along with dozens of others. It also identified venues frequented by gays and lesbians. Its subheading read “Hang them”.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda and imprisonment of up to 14 years may be imposed. However, it is a bill introduced by politician David Bahati in 2009, and still before Uganda’s Parliament, that has upped the stakes for Uganda’s gay population.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill would impose the death penalty for serial homosexual offences; for sexual activity with persons under the age of 18 or the disabled; and for sexual activity where HIV is passed to another.
Mr. Bahati stands firm behind his proposed legislation saying most Ugandans support his bill and he merely represents his constituent’s interests.
Some media outlets report that Bahati’s bill came to fruition after he spent time with certain evangelical christians who came to Uganda in 2009, espousing family values and denouncing homosexuality as a sin. Barack Obama’s inauguration “Pastor”, Rick Warren from Saddleback, California, has been named as a Christian leader who influenced Mr. Bahati and other high-placed politicians.
Warren’s mega-church has focused considerable charitable efforts in Africa, including Uganda, however, Mr. Warren has forcefully denounced the death penalty bill, while adhering to biblical standards concerning sex outside of marriage and the sanctity of marriage, between one man and one woman.
Meanwhile, several weeks ago, a Ugandan court made an order barring any media company from “outing” gays and lesbians. This pronouncement has been heralded as a significant breakthrough for the gay community.
Police in Uganda believe that David Kato’s death had nothing to do with his activism, however, the less naive are not convinced. There have been reports of other sexual orientation-based assaults since the Rolling Stone published its list.
The politics of Uganda’s gay agenda is complicated and ugly. The United Nations has been vocal in its criticism of Uganda’s proposed policies, while countries like Sweden and the United Kingdom have threatened to withdraw millions of dollars of aid, so badly needed to support Uganda’s impoverished citizens.
Uganda: The world is watching.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang