The Uganda “Kill The Gays” bill, infamous around the world for its provision mandating the death penalty for anyone convicted of the “crime” of homosexuality, anyone convicted of same-sex rape, anyone who is classified as a “serial offender,” even anyone with HIV, may become law before the Uganda Parliament ends its session May 12, and contrary to a published AP report, still with the death penalty provision included.
David Bahati, the Uganda minister who has become internationally known because of the bill, has again announced he may “concede” the death penalty provision if it means the bill will become law. But some say agreeing to drop the death penalty provision is essentially a ruse designed to garner support. In fact, the death penalty has not been dropped from the bill, according to Box Turtle Bulletin (BTB), who directly countered the AP report.
“The bill would lower the bar for conviction, making mere “touching” for the perceived purpose of homosexual relations a criminal offense,” writes Jim Burroway at BTB, adding, “newspapers all over the world are carrying this AP article with a misleading headline indicating that the death penalty’s being dropped is a fait accompli. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Burroway continues, “The penalty has not been officially dropped. This is merely a statement of concession that Bahati is reiterating, one that he has made many times before. The bill itself remains unchanged.”
The “Kill The Gays” bill also mandates jail time for those who know of homosexuals but do not report them to authorities within 24 hours.
The bill also offers a maximum of seven years prison time for even renting a room to someone who is homosexual. Any assistance to a gay man or lesbian would be considered criminal.
With or without the death penalty provision, Bahati still believes the bill can pass Parliament. “I can guarantee you I have not seen any member of parliament who is opposed to it,” he said.
“We are not here to hang the gays as people have speculated but to protect young men and girls being recruited into the practice,” Pastor Ssempa has claimed, in an awkward twist of logic.
“We shall try and see how far we can go with the bill. It may be possible. We are doing all we can,” said Stephen Tashobya, the chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, reports the Associated Press.
“We have limited time,” he said Tuesday, adding, “Many people have expressed concern about that provision providing for the death sentence and I’m sure when we start hearings on that bill we will hear many more concerns,” according to the AP.
Just one month ago, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni had determined the bill, which has been public since 2009, was “redundant.” Museveni wants the bill to die, according to reports, because of international outrage, including condemnation from U.S. President Barack Obama, and Rep. Barney Frank, who has stated Uganda may lose all U.S. foreign aid, about $500 million, if the bill passes.
The bill reportedly was shelved last month but Bahati — who has said he wants to “kill every last gay person” — appeared defiant, stating at the time, “I think that the government is aware that 95 percent of Ugandans do not condone homosexuality.”
But one week later, supporters of the bill, lead by right-wing zealot Pastor Martin Ssempa, presented to Speaker of the Uganda Parliament, Edward Ssekandi, a petition reportedly carrying two million signatures, demanding the “Kill The Gays” bill — also known as the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” — become law.
“We as religious leaders and civil society are distressed that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is being deliberately killed largely by the undemocratic threats of western nations,” Pastor Ssempa, leader of Uganda’s Inter-Religious Taskforce Against Homosexuality, said at the time. In an awkward twist of logic, Ssempa has also claimed, “We are not here to hang the gays as people have speculated but to protect young men and girls being recruited into the practice.”
Ssempa has come under attack from the US, especially after The New York Times wrote on April 13 that Ssempa had bribed at least one man to claim he was recruited into homosexuality by Uganda gay activist David Kato. Kato was murdered in January.
Uganda, which has a population of over 32 million, is one of 83 countries where homosexuality is already illegal. Seven other countries already make homosexuality punishable by death.
The “Kill The Gays” bill, which has also become known as the “Bahati bill,” is necessary, according to the team of Pastor Ssempa and David Bahati, because homosexuals are supposedly “recruiting children” in Uganda, and, the two claim, paying them large sums of money to have same-gender sex or to become homosexual. The petition with two million signatures, came with a list of nineteen organizations that they claim are “promoting” homosexuality in Uganda. That list has not been made public.
No one has ever provided actual, credible proof that anyone is “recruiting” children into homosexuality. Bahati, who has a Cardiff University MBA, has been repeatedly asked in this country by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for any proof of these allegations. Bahati promised to provide it but never has.
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