Life sentence threat has Ugandan gays in a panic
convicted, including life imprisonment for what it calls aggravated homosexuality.
Countries including the US previously criticised the bill when it came before parliament. Germany cut off aid to Uganda late last year citing the bill as one of its concerns.
Widespread criticism of the law, and resistance from the executive which is wary of antagonising Western donors, stalled its passage. But parliament has also been under pressure to push it through, especially from mainstream and evangelical churches.
Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, but the new law prohibits the “promotion” of gay rights and punishes any- one who “funds”, “sponsors” or “abets” homosexuality.
Homosexuality is taboo in many African countries. It is illegal in 37 nations on the continent, and activists say few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and losing their jobs.
Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said he would try to rally rights activists to have the law blocked in the courts.
The president must sign any bill before it becomes law.
“We in the gay community are in a panic,” Mugisha said. “People are afraid of walking in the streets, because they know how Ugandans like to take the law into their own hands.” International rights groups have criticised Uganda for passing a series of laws they say have chipped away at civil liberties and created an oppressive environment.
This week parliament passed an anti- pornography law that bans “erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement and any indecent act or behaviour tending to corrupt morals”.
Critics responded with derision, dubbing it the “antiminiskirt” law because it proscribes wearing miniskirts.
In August, Uganda passed a public order management law that requires anyone planning to hold a political rally or demonstration to give notice to the police. The legislation gives authorities sweeping powers to stop such meetings if they have “reasonable grounds” to do so. – Reuters