Editor’s note: The situation has changed. Please read: URGENT UPDATE: Kill The Gays Bill Back On Uganda Parliament Vote Agenda. This is a developing story, and we expect a vote later today. Please check back throughout the day for updates.
For the most up-to-date news on Uganda’s Kill The Gays bill, visit our Uganda section.
In an unexpected move, overnight, Uganda’s internationally denounced Kill The Gays bill has disappeared from the Uganda Parliament’s agenda. The bill is infamous around the world for its provision mandating the death penalty for anyone convicted of the â€œcrimeâ€ of homosexuality,Â anyone convicted of same-â€‹sex rape, anyone who is classified as a â€œserial offender,â€ even anyone withÂ HIV.Â The bill was widely expected to be voted upon — and easily pass — Wednesday, after two days of committee debate that its author, David Bahati (photo), claimed had produced a version that stripped the death penalty for being gay out of the draft legislation. Parliament’s last scheduled day is today, but technically May 18 is the close of its session before a new Parliament is sworn in.
Worldwide outcry from nearly two million individuals who signed online petitions and contacted Ugandan embassies, as well as from governments around the world, including the U.K., and United States — which contributes a large portion of Uganda’s annual operating budget through various foreign aid entities — may have had the desired effect.
It is critical to note that this does not mean the Kill The Gays bill is dead. It has “died” and been resurrected several times before, and its author, M.P. David Bahati — who has strong ties to the highly influential political and religious group, The Family — is not about to let it die.
“One member of parliament, John Alimadi, said Wednesday that the bill may have been dropped from the agenda because of a worldwide outcry against it,’ reported The Washington Post Wednesday.
It is critical to note that this does not mean the Kill The Gays bill is dead. It has “died” and been resurrected several times before, and its author, M.P. David Bahati — who has strong ties to the highly influential political and religious group, The Family — is not about to let it go, especially after spending the better part of two years advocating for it, and against his gay and lesbian constituents.
Uganda ranks number 143 of 169 countries in theÂ Â United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index, which examines aÂ combination of health, education, and living standards. Uganda is also considered to have aÂ high number of people who are illiterate, especially women. All these factors lead to aÂ population easily indoctrinated into religious extremism.
The bill has been seen by many in the western media as aÂ diversionary tactic for aÂ government attempting to regain control amidst an increasingly angry and rioting populationâ€‰â€”â€‰one that is extremely homophobic and anti-â€‹gay, thanks in large part to American Evangelical groups, including The Family, that have infiltrated the country of 32 million people, 84% of whom are Christian.
The Kill The Gays Bill also mandates jail time for those who know of homosexuals but do not report them to authorities within 24Â hours andÂ offers aÂ maximum of seven years prison time for even renting aÂ room to someone who is homosexual. Any assistance to aÂ gay man or lesbian would be considered criminal.
The bill reportedly was shelved in March, but Bahatiâ€‰â€”â€‰who has said he wants to â€œkill every last gay personâ€â€‰â€”â€‰appeared defiant, stating at the time, â€œI think that the government is aware that 95 percent of Ugandans do not condone homosexuality.â€
One week later, supporters of the bill, lead by right-â€‹wing zealot Pastor Martin Ssempa, presented to Speaker of the Uganda Parliament, Edward Ssekandi,Â aÂ petition reportedly carrying two million signatures, demanding the â€œKill The Gaysâ€ billâ€‰â€”â€‰also known as the â€œAnti-â€‹Homosexuality Billâ€â€‰â€”â€‰become law.
The â€œKill The Gaysâ€ bill, which has also become known as the â€œBahati bill,â€ is necessaryâ€‰â€”â€‰according to the team of PastorÂ Ssempa and David Bahatiâ€‰â€”â€‰because homosexuals are supposedly â€œrecruiting childrenâ€ in Uganda, and, the two claim, paying them large sums of money to have same-â€‹gender sex or to become homosexual. The petition reportedly came with aÂ list of nineteen organizations that they claim are â€œpromotingâ€ homosexuality in Uganda.
But no one has ever provided actual proof.Â Bahati, who has aÂ Cardiff UniversityÂ MBA,Â has been repeatedly asked in this country byÂ MSNBCâ€™s Rachel Maddow for any proof of these allegations. Bahati promised to provide it but never has.
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MN Police Officer Sentenced 3.5 Years for Death of George Floyd
Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Keung has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for aiding and abetting manslaughter in the death of Black city resident George Floyd.
Keung, age 29, had accepted a plea deal in order to avoid an additional charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. His guilty plea acknowledged that the restraining holds used by police on Floyd were excessive and likely to cause serious harm.
Video of Floyd’s May 25, 2020 murder at the hands of city police captured footage of Keung kneeling on Floyd’s back while another officer knelt of the man’s neck. for over nine minutes, officers applied pressure to Floyd while he laid face down in the street, crying and telling officers that he couldn’t breathe while also calling out for his mother.
Video of Floyd’s murder sparked international outrage and inspired protests against institutional racism and police brutality.
Keung is the fourth and final police officer to receive prison time for his role in Floyd’s death. He will serve his new sentence and a federal sentence for Floyd’s death concurrently, serving a total of about 2 1/2 years for the killing.
Virginia Republican Files Bill Defining a Fertilized Egg as a Human
Virginia State Delegate Marie March (R) has pre-filed House Bill 1395, a law that would define life as beginning at fertilization.
“Life begins at conception and each person is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States,” the proposed bill states.
The proposed bill would effectively outlaw all abortions in the state and even endanger the use of Plan B (aka. “The morning-after pill”), a medication that prevents fertilized egg cells from attaching to a woman’s uterine wall.
The bill could also effectively criminalize in vitro fertilization, a method of inducing pregnancy that uses fertilized eggs and discards any unused ones.
Even though Republicans control the state’s House of Delegates, it’s unclear if the bill would have any chance of passing the state’s Democratic-led Senate. The legislature won’t reconvene until January 11, 2023.
Virginia currently allows a woman to get an abortion within roughly 26 weeks of pregnancy. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed passing a law that would reduce that window to 15 weeks, a period of time in which most women may not even realize they’re pregnant.
In response to March’s bill the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance said in a statement, “In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and despite the vast majority of Virginians who oppose it, Virginia’s anti-abortion elected officials keep proving there are no limits to their extremism and true intentions to ban abortion for all Virginians.”
Georgia GOP Says Its Voting Restrictions “Backfired” & Helped Dems Win Senate Seat
When two Republicans lost Georgia’s special runoff senate elections in January 2021, state Republicans in the General Assembly re-wrote voting laws to restrict absentee ballots and give voters fewer days to vote in future runoff elections.
However, after Republicans lost yet another runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat — with Herschel Walker losing to his Democratic competitor, Rev. Raphael Warnock, earlier this month — state Republicans want to re-re-write the rules, hopeful of a more favorable outcome.
Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), the official who oversees the state’s voting procedures, said he plans on giving three proposals to lawmakers when they return to the General Assembly in January.
“[The proposals] include forcing large counties to open more early-voting locations (in an attempt to reduce the hours-long lines some voters waited in) … lowering the threshold candidates must achieve to avoid a runoff from 50 percent to 45 percent; and instituting a ranked-choice instant-runoff system that would not require voters to come back to the polls again after the general election,” The New York Times reported.
To be clear, it’s unclear whether these changes would’ve helped Walker win. But they stand in contrast to the changes state Republicans made to voting laws following their failed January 2021 Senate runoff ambitions.
The changes after that time severely restricted the types of people eligible to receive an absentee ballot. While 24 percent of the January 2021 vote came via mail-in absentee ballots, the rule changes resulted in 5 percent of mail-in votes coming in for the January 2022 runoff.
Republicans also lowered the number of in-person early voting days to five (though the rule change allowed counties to add extra days.) The Times found that 28 of Georgia’s 159 counties opted to add extra in-person early voting days — 17 of the counties that did largely backed Warnock while 11 backed his challenger.
Before the recent run-off election, Raffensperger also tried to enforce a state law forbidding in-person early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. However, Warnock successfully sued to prevent the law from going into effect.
Overall, the changes may have “backfired,” Republicans told The Times, actually encouraging Democratic voters to come out in greater numbers.
While Republicans point to the large turnout of runoff voters as “proof” that their changes didn’t discourage voting, Warnock’s campaign criticized the changes, saying that such restrictions shouldn’t make it harder for people to vote in the first place.
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