Ugandan Parliament Revisits ’Death to Gays’ Bill
Lawmakers in Uganda are preparing to revisit a controversial bill, first proposed two years ago, which would prescribe the death penalty for gays in certain cases and impose steep penalties on others who do not report gays to the authorities.
The so-called "Death to Gays" bill was first advanced by Ugandan MP David Bahati in October of 2009, shortly after several anti-gay American evangelicals visited Uganda and told crowds that gays corrupt youths.
The conference was put together by the Ugandan group the Family Life Network, which purports to uphold "traditional family values." The speakers included anti-gay writer and missionary Scott Lively--author of a book that purports to tell parents how to "gay-proof" their offspring--and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus international, an organization dedicated to the idea that gays can be "cured" through prayer and counseling.
A third speaker was also in attendance: Caleb Lee Brundidge, who claims once to have been gay, but now to be heterosexual. Mr. Brundage heads seminars focused on "healing" gays (that is, attempting to turn them straight).
The views set out by the Americans ranged from highly dubious claims that gays can be "converted" to heterosexuality to wild, undefined assertions that a "gay agenda" was at work "to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity," as well as stereotype-based pronouncements that gay men prey on teenaged boys.
Bahati has ties to anti-gay American evangelicals, subsequent news stories revealed.
In the two years since Bahati first introduced the "Death to Gays" bill, life for Uganda’s LGBT population has become considerably harder as the social climate has become significantly more homophobic. A Ugandan newspaper went so far as to publish the names, photos, and addresses of 100 Ugandans the paper claimed were gay and lesbian, with the accompanying headline screaming, "HANG THEM!"
One of the men listed by the newspaper was murdered on Jan. 26. LGBT equality advocate David Kato was killed in his home by a man wielding a hammer. The man later claimed that Kato had failed to pay him for gay sex.
International outrage followed the bill’s first introduction, and Uganda’s president sought to have Bahati take the bill off the table, to no avail. Since then, the bill has intermittently been brought up for renewed consideration, and parts of the bill have reportedly been incorporated into other proposed laws--as means, critics suggest, of implementing the bill’s anti-gay measures piecemeal and below the radar of international watchdogs.
Now, reported Bloomberg Businessweek on Oct. 25, Uganda’s parliament is set to debate the bill anew.
"The legislation will be sent to the relevant session committee for consideration, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told lawmakers today in a televised debate from the capital, Kampala," the article said.