David Bahati: author of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
In a shocking development, Uganda’s parliament has finally passed the widely condemned “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” after four years in limbo.
On Friday, MPs overwhelmingly approved the legislation. According to the bill’s author, MP David Bahati, the version approved by parliament does not include the original death penalty clause.
In response to news of the law’s passage, LGBT rights activist Frank Mugisha tweeted: “I am officially illegal”
LGBT Ugandans have had to endure years of ongoing uncertainty over the bill, which was first introduced in 2009, but had not been put up for a vote in parliament until today.
The original bill allowed for the death penalty in cases of “aggravated homosexuality” but it is believed that the final legislation will now punish aggravated homosexuality with life imprisonment instead.
In addition, anyone who “aids, abets [or] counsels” any gay person and anyone who rents a home or room to a gay person could also be sentenced to seven years in jail.
The bill further includes criminal penalties of three to seven years in prison for anyone who fails to turn over gay people to the police or anyone who “promotes” homosexuality.
There are reports that a new clause has been added to the bill which will also impose life imprisonment on anyone who conducts a gay marriage.
“This is a victory for Uganda. I am glad the parliament has voted against evil,” Bahati told AFP.
“Because we are a God-fearing nation, we value life in a holistic way. It is because of those values that members of parliament passed this bill regardless of what the outside world thinks.”
The bill will now be sent to President Yoweri Museveni for his signature before it can become law. It remains unclear if he will approve the bill in the face of international criticism.
While anal sex was already criminalised under a colonial era law that barred acts “against the order of nature” the new legislation now makes any kind of homosexual sex a crime punishable by life imprisonment.