Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays Bill’ ex­pected to pass

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Uganda’s Anti-Ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity Bill, known by op­po­nents as the “Kill the Gays Bill,” was ex­pected to be voted on this week in the African coun­try’s Par­lia­ment, where lead­ers said they want to pass the bill be­fore the Dec. 15 re­cess as a “Christ­mas gift” to ci­ti­zens.

At press time on Mon­day, Nov. 19, Ugan­dan news­pa­per The Daily Mon­i­tor re­ported the bill was likely to be de­bated Tues­day, Nov. 20.

The Speaker of Par­lia­ment, Re­becca Kadaga, wrote in a Nov. 13 let­ter that there is high pub­lic pres­sure to pass the bill. She has stated she wants the bill passed be­fore the end of the year to give as a “Christ­mas gift” to the peo­ple of Uganda.

“I write to re­it­er­ate my ear­lier in­struc­tion to your com­mit­tee to ex­pe­di­tiously han­dle the re­view of the report on the bill. As you are aware, there is high de­mand by the pop­u­la­tion to ad­dress the es­ca­lat­ing prob­lem of pro­mot­ing and re­cruit­ing mi­nors into ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity,” the let­ter states in part, ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle posted to the Mon­i­tor’s web­site Nov. 16.

Numer­ous West­ern coun­tries have promised to with­hold for­eign aid if the bill is passed and protests have oc­curred in the U.S., in­clud­ing one in At­lanta on Nov. 14 at the state capi­tol.

J.R. Rich, 28, from Mid­town, or­ga­nized the small At­lanta protest. He held a “Shame on Uganda” sign and said he wanted to raise aware­ness among law­mak­ers as well as ci­ti­zens of what is tak­ing place in Uganda, lo­cated in East Africa.

“We are try­ing to raise aware­ness to any­one we can, es­pe­cially our Con­gress­men on the Hill,” he said.

“They [in Uganda] are try­ing to en­act leg­is­la­tion, that is go­ing to pass ac­cord­ing to their House Speaker in Uganda, that would a make their al­ready il­le­gal ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity law pun­ish­able by much tougher stan­dards in­clud­ing the death penalty,” Rich said.

“That is wrong. It’s geno­cide for any­body they kill and it’s an ex­treme in­frac­tion of civil rights and hu­man rights. We feel the UN should be in­volved and we want Congress and the pres­i­dent to come out pub­licly against it,” Rich added.

Uganda may be a world away from the steps of Ge­or­gia’s Gold Dome, but Rich be­lieves ev­ery­one should be aware and in­ter­ested in stop­ping the anti-gay leg­is­la­tion.

“Grow­ing up as a Jewish man, as a gay man, the Holo­caust has weighed on me at times. If some­one is not go­ing to speak for them, who will speak for me if this hap­pens here?” he said. “We all need to speak out, we all need to be in­volved, we all need to care.”

The bill in­cludes two cat­e­gories: “ag­gra­vated ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity” and the “of­fense of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.”

“Ag­gra­vated ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity” is pun­ish­able by death and in­cludes a par­ent or author­ity fig­ure who has same-sex re­la­tions, some­one who is HIV-pos­i­tive, or those who com­mit ho­mo­sex­ual acts with mi­nors.

The “of­fense of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity” is pun­ish­able with a life sen­tence and in­cludes those in a same-sex mar­riage and Ugan­dans who have same-sex re­la­tion­ships out­side Uganda.

Ho­mo­sex­ual re­la­tion­ships are cur­rently il­le­gal in Uganda and those caught can now be im­pris­oned for 14 years.

Amer­i­can Chris­tian ties to Uganda bill

The bill was orig­i­nally in­tro­duced in 2009 by Par­lia­ment mem­ber David Ba­hati and was res­ur­rected in Fe­bru­ary. Ba­hati is a mem­ber of The Fel­low­ship Foun­da­tion, bet­ter known as The Fam­ily, an in­ter­na­tional Chris­tian or­ga­ni­za­tion based in the U.S. that or­ga­nizes the an­nual Na­tional Prayer Break­fast.

In 2010, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton spoke out against the Ugan­dan bill at the Na­tional Prayer Break­fast.

The ob­jec­tives of the bill, as stated in the of­fi­cial doc­u­ment: “pro­vide for mar­riage in Uganda as that con­tracted only be be­tween a man and a woman; pro­hibit and pe­nal­ize ho­mo­sex­ual be­hav­ior and re­lated prac­tices in Uganda as they con­sti­tute a threat to the tra­di­tional fam­ily; pro­hibit rat­i­fi­ca­tion of any in­ter­na­tional treaties, con­ven­tions, pro­to­cols, agree­ments and the dec­la­ra­tions which are con­trary or in­con­sis­tent with the pro­vi­sions of this Act; pro­hibit the li­cens­ing of or­ga­ni­za­tions which pro­mote ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.”

Through­out the bill are ref­er­ences to ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity be­ing a threat to “tra­di­tional fam­i­lies.”

Ba­hati wrote the bill af­ter at­tend­ing a 2009 con­fer­ence in Kampala, Uganda, led by anti­gay ac­tivist Scott Lively of Cal­i­for­nia’s Abid­ing Truth Min­istries.

Rachel Mad­dow, host of “The Rachel Mad­dow Show” on MSNBC, has re­ported ex­ten­sively on the Uganda bill and its ties to Amer­i­can evan­gel­i­cals. She has in­ter­viewed in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter Jeff Sharlet sev­eral times about his sto­ries about The Fam­ily and its con­nec­tions to the anti-gay Ugan­dan bill.

But Rick War­ren also has con­nec­tions to the bill. War­ren is known for be­ing anti-gay and LGBT peo­ple were dis­mayed when he was in­vited by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to give the in­vo­ca­tion at his in­au­gu­ra­tion four years ago.

War­ren is also friends with Pas­tor Martin Ssempa, an out­spo­ken anti-gay preacher who is a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to War­ren’s One Sad­dle­back Church in Cal­i­for­nia and a strong sup­porter of Uganda’s Anti-Ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity Bill.

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