The Ugandan government has stated its intention to pass a bill that will endanger the lives of LGBT citizens across the country.
The bill itself argues that a person should receive a life sentence for “homosexual activity” and a death sentence for “aggravated homosexuality”. Under the new law, even people found helping or sheltering LGBT citizens would be subjected to seven years in jail.
Ugandans fleeing from the anti-gay violence at home could now be extradited to face either life imprisonment or execution.
The so-called ‘Kill the Gays’ law has the potential to cause a greater degree of anti-LGBT rhetoric and harassment across the country. Vigilante violence, lynchings, extra-judicial torture, maimings and executions could easily become a reality should the bill pass.
In a recent statement, Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo said:
“Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that. It only criminialises the act. We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalised. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence.”
State Aid donors to Uganda including the US and EU have been analysing the matter closely. The US state department official has said:
“The US government firmly opposes criminialisation of LGBT individuals. We stand with Uganda’s LGBT community and Ugandans of all backgrounds and beliefs to defend the dignity of all citizens.”
However, when it came to cutting funding, they said:
“At this point, there has been no credible information that the government of Uganda is seriously considering introducing the bill.”
At the time, the bill received global criticism. Members of the EU includinf Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway as well as the World Bank cut state aid or redirected it.
The US restricted their state aid as well, visa restrictions were put into place and military exercises were either cancelled or suspended. After the bill was nullified, these sanctions were removed.
However, the Ugandan government has not been perturbed by the consequences of five years ago and have taken their anti-gay rhetoric to a new extreme.
Activist Julian Onziema has said he fears that anti-gay hate crime will only increase now that the bill is going back to the house. According to him, four LGBT people have already been killed this year due to the government’s rhetoric, with the number likely to rise in the coming months.
Image: Mail & Guardian