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