You may not be surprised to learn that Uganda has been considering an anti-homosexuality bill. However, you probably would be surprised to learn that the death penalty for gay people is a part of this bill. When I heard about this, I was outraged. However, even I was surprised to learn that the death penalty for gay individuals is not limited to Uganda, but is the law of the land in seven countries.
Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill was first introduced by David Bahati in October of 2009 (pictured below). The death penalty would be used for people who have been convicted of homosexuality more than once, are HIV-positive, or have sex with someone under 18 of the same sex. The bill would also prohibit the "promotion of homosexuality,"and would imprison for life those married to a person of the same-sex. Anyone who knew of a gay person would be required to report them, or face prosecution themselves. Bahati has said that a new version of the bill does not include the death penalty, but no new version of the bill has been released.
This bill has been connected by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and others to an American group called "The Family." (I discussed this issue earlier this year after David Kato, a prominent gay Ugandan, was murdered).
It's clear Uganda has an acceptance problem. What has been up in the air is whether Uganda has a big, gigantic legal problem.
If the bill, or a version of it, would pass, Uganda would not be alone in this human rights violation. There are seven other countries that have the death penalty of gay people (source: Wikipedia).
On Friday, after reports that the bill would be voted on that day, the Ugandan parliament adjourned without taking any action on the "Kill the Gays" bill. This means that, for this session at least, the bill is dead.
Over 2 million people around the world had signed online petitions protesting the "Kill the Gays" bill. Allout.org is one of those organizations that is celebrating this as a victory, but is also insisting on the importance of continued attentiveness and dedication to LGBTQ equality (see video below).
Unfortunately, the bill may not be dead forever. There's an extreme lack of LGBT acceptance in Uganda. The bill could be reintroduced next session. In fact, David Bahati has already said he is planning to reintroduce it.
It's important that we continue to be vigilant, and protest when individuals or governments are unjust, especially when the groups being discriminated against are those lacking voice. It's also important to remember that just because gay people won't be killed by the Ugandan government, it doesn't mean they are free.