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Sunday, 25 November 2012 16:31

Ugandan Parliament Face ‘kill the gays’ Vote

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Gay rights activists in Uganda have warned that the notorious bill that includes the death penalty for so-called ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is likely to be debated by MPs on Friday.  

The ‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ remains on the parliamentary agenda despite worldwide condemnation from political leaders, human rights organisations and the United Nations. 

LGBTI campaigners in the country say the legislation still includes provision for capital punishment in certain circumstances.

Frank Mugisha, leader of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), told the Kaleidoscope Trust: “This bill is a total abuse of human rights. It will mean we may face the death penalty for just being ourselves. But should the bill pass it does not mean our fight is over, we will continue to fight, and we will challenge the bill in the constitutional court. I ask all those of good conscience, both in Uganda and beyond, to join our fight and help us”.

Kaleidoscope’s Deputy Executive Director, Harjeet Johal, is in Uganda to witness the proceedings. He said: “It is clear to me that people here expect this pernicious piece of legislation to be passed. The fear on the faces of the brave men and women who have stood up publicly against this threat to their rights and freedoms is painful to behold. I feel like a shackled spectator to an awful tragedy. But while we can condemn this evil bill from the safety of our own countries, the LGBTI community here cannot escape its consequences.”

Johal will also be present on the first day of the trial of David Cecil, the British theatre producer charged with staging a play with a gay storyline without permission. Mr. Cecil faces up to two years in jail if convicted. The play, ‘The River and the Mountain’ was performed in two theatres in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, earlier this year. Mr. Cecil said the play was “not politically motivated” and neither promoted homosexuality nor criticized the government. 

Latest Update

A committee of Ugandan MPs has endorsed the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill but dropped the death penalty provision, an MP has told the BBC.

MP Medard Segona said "substantial amendments" had been made to the bill but said he was not allowed to reveal further details. Mr Segona, who is on the Legal and Parliamentary committee of Uganda's parliament, told the BBC: "I can confirm it has been dropped."

The bill, tabled by MP David Bahati, proposes longer jail terms for homosexual acts, including a life sentence in certain circumstances.

In its original form, those convicted of "aggravated homosexuality" - defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a "serial offender" - faced the death penalty. Such offences would now be punished with life imprisonment, it is understood.

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