Anti-Homosexuality Act to be re-introduced in Uganda

Those that do grave acts will be given death sentence. Minister Simon Lukodo courtesy photo
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The Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) also known as “Kill the Gays Bill” on Thursday is proposed to be re-introduced by the national’s law-makers eyeing to impose the death penalty for LGBTI people and also focusing on the clampdown Non-government Organizations that fight for their Human Rights.

At the end of August, the Ethics and Integrity Minister, Fr Simon Lokodo, said his predecessor Mr. James Nsaba Buturo, would take leave of parliament to reintroduce a private member’s Bill against homosexuality.

This has come more than five years after President Museveni, signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. In addition, on February 24, 2014, before both local and international media. However, on 1 August 2014, the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the Act invalid on procedural grounds.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) has become contentious according to the proponents. The bill is aimed at “Upholding and protecting Uganda cultural values against the Western culture”.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act prescribes tough penalties such as life imprisonment for aggravated homosexuality and same-sex marriages. However, this is not only for homosexuals but would be criminalizing anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment.

All this is aimed at clamping down Non-government organizations and CSO’s that work and fights for human rights in any way.

“State Minister for morals and Integrity, Simon Lodoko, said it is not sufficient that the current corrective code “just condemns the demonstration,” adding that it needs to rebuff anybody “even associated with the advancement and enlistment” of homosexuality.

“Homosexuality is not normal to Ugandans,” he said in an announcement. “Yet, there has been a monstrous enlistment by gay individuals in schools, especially in single-sex boarding schools. Therefore particularly now among the adolescent, where they are advancing the deception that individuals are brought into the world like that.”

“Those that do grave acts will be given death sentence,” he added

On May 27, 2019, Mr. George Oundo the Chairperson of Ex-gay community in Uganda petitioned the Speaker of parliament, MS Rebecca Kadaga, saying the Anti- Homosexuality Act will help in awareness about the sexual orientation.

“If this Bill is re-tabled, it will expose the extent of the moral breakdown with the children and the youth.

We aim at promoting moral and spiritual values since they are just recruited and not born as gays or lesbians. I am requesting to meet the President and explain the pain we are going through medically. In addition and also the stigma we face from the community  ” Mr. Oundo said.

Fr. Lokodo said the bill, which has the support of President Yoweri Museveni, will be brought before parliament and expects it to be voted on before the end of the year.

He was confident it would achieve the necessary two-thirds majority support. In addition, as the government has already lobbied legislators ahead of its re-introduction.

Uganda faced worldwide condemnation after the original “Kill the gays” bill was signed in 2014. The United States reduced aid, imposed visa restrictions, The World Bank, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands also suspended or redirected aid.

But Fr, Lokodo said he was aware of the potential blowback.” It is a concern,” he said. But we are ready.

We don’t like blackmailing. However much as we know that this is going to irritate our supporters’ budget and governance, we can’t just bend our heads. Also, and bow before people who want to impose a culture that is foreign to us.

When the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed and signed in 2014, the government’s budget was affected. In addition and the Inter-Religious Council Of Uganda (IRCU), a group of religious denominations.

These include the Uganda Episcopal Conference representing the Catholic Church, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.

In addition, Church Of Uganda, Uganda Orthodox Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church, and Pentecostal Movement.

The money provided to IRCU as part of the USAID five-year HIV/AIDS support program for Uganda was however withdrawn to a tune of $34.5 million (about Shs130b), which saw people affected in palliative care, anti-retroviral medication, vulnerable children affected.

Ms. Clare Byarugaba, one of the LGBTIQ+ activists and petitioners who vigorously pushed for the nullifications of AHA in 2014, says they have raised the red flag about the clauses and hopes that they will be removed.

Pr. Martin Ssempa says he is ready to support any law that aims at protecting values that Ugandans and Africans stand for.

Mr. Frank Mugisha, the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, an umbrella body for LGBTIQ+ community says;

“There has been so much increase on social exclusions such as people being thrown out of homes, there are some levels of harassment at community levels, especially to our transgender community members. There are some people in our society that are bitter because the law was nullified and therefore, have taken the law into their own hands and these people are never arrested. The re-introduction of the law is the biggest threat to our community,”

Brian Wassawa 28, a Ugandan LGBTQ activist recently died on 5th October 2019 after he was attacked at his home in Jinja the eastern part of Uganda.

Anti-homosexuality Act
Relatives of Brian Wasswa carry his coffin during his funeral on October 6, 2019. 
 © HRAPF 2019

 

Pepe Julian Onziema from sexual minorities Uganda said the members are in fear. Late January 2018 a gay in Kawempe was killed. Now in 2019 three other gay men and one transgender woman have been killed. In addition, in homophobic attacks because of hostile statements by politicians around LGBT rights.

One of the gay Ugandans, names withheld because of security reasons now living in Canada, says “even if the act was annulled he and others were forced to flee to Kenya as refugees and later resettled in Canada because of stigmatisation that we faced in the society and from our families” He says,

“It is a pity that Brian Wassawa was killed. He used to come for our monthly meetings that were organized by Emnac Foundation where I was a member.
Anti-homosexuality Act
Paralegal Brian Wasswa, a Uganda LGBT community member, is taken to hospital after a brutal attack by unknown people. (Photo courtesy of Kuchu Times)

These meetings were conference outings and get together with our friends held in Kawempe. The organization helped us with financing, free access to doctors to those that needed it. Also, antiretroviral drugs to those that needed them, free condoms, and lubricants and free HIV testing.

Brian gave us a lot of sex education and  HIV/AIDS prevention. With the current situation in Uganda, I do not think I will come back soon”.

Justine Balya, a legal officer with Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) describes Brian Wassawa as a social, well-loved and committed to counselling young people living with HIV about the importance of adhering to treatment.

 Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights organisations have always expressed concerns at the continuing police attacks and blocking of LGBTIQ+ meeting.

However, early 2018, The Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) reported unidentified people broke into its office during night disabled parts of the security systems and slashed two guards with machetes, severely injuring them.

Also, in August and September 2018 the Human Rights Watch says some offices were raided by unknown security operatives. “All of the targeted groups are known for critiquing government policies in areas such as freedom of expression and the rights of LGBTIQ+ people, the statement said”.

Uganda has experienced a rise in homophobic rhetoric from the government at high levels in recent weeks.

In addition, to the Minister Lokod’s threat to revive the Anti-Homosexuality Act , security Minister Elly Tumwine claimed in an October 3 television interview that LGBT and non-government organisations were linked to an alleged terrorist group.

However, Col Shaban Bantariza, the deputy government spokesman, says “Different people in different parts of the world define rights differently. We all define those using different parameters, but there are those who think we should all be going by their parameters. Uganda is a sovereign nation.”

Col Bantariza adds that laws are always revisited depending on the need and that there is no cause for alarm.

Provisions under Sexual Offences Bill,2015

Clause 16. Unnatural Offences

Any person who:-

  1. Has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature:
  2. Has carnal knowledge of an animal: or
  3. Permits a male or female person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life

Clause 17: Attempt to commit any of the offences specified in section 16 above commits a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act as marked into law

The demonstration gives explicit meanings of “the offense of homosexuality” and “irritated homosexuality”.

An individual who submits either offense can get life detainment. “Disturbed homosexuality” is characterized to incorporate an equivalent sex sexual act: with an individual younger than 18; submitted by an individual who is HIV-constructive;

by a parent or watchman of the individual with whom the demonstration is submitted; by an individual in power over the individual with whom the demonstration is submitted; with an impaired individual; by a sequential guilty party; or by an individual who directs any medication, matter, or thing with the plan to stun or overwhelm someone else to empower an equivalent sex act to be submitted.

An individual accused of “bothered homosexuality” is compelled to experience an HIV test.

Individuals who endeavour to submit “the offense of homosexuality” can get detainment for a long time. An individual who endeavors to submit “exasperated homosexuality” can get life detainment.

In addition to other things, the demonstration likewise condemns an individual who “helps, abets, advises, or obtains another to take part in a demonstration of homosexuality” and gives a potential punishment of seven years detainment. An individual who “indicates to get married to someone else of a similar sex” submits the “offense of homosexuality” and can be detained forever.

An individual that leads a wedding function between people of similar sex can be detained for a limit of seven years. A foundation that directs this kind of marriage can have its permit dropped.

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An individual who advances or abets homosexuality, as comprehensively characterized by the bill, can also be fined. In addition and detained for five to seven years with the exception of that if the individual were a corporate body, business, affiliation, or non-administrative association, its enrollment can be dropped and the “chief, owner or advertiser” can get seven years detainment.

An individual accused of an offense under the demonstration might be removed to Uganda, as gave under existing removal law.

In 1950, Uganda got its first modern law criminalizing same-sex relations under section 145 of the penal code act cap 120. The section outlawed any unnatural offenses which we described to be any sexual acts against the order of nature. The sentence, once convicted, was of up to life imprisonment.

But as international groups like European Union, Global Fund, and World Bank pledge to continue monitoring the situation in Uganda. But this is not the first time that Uganda has made headlines in recent weeks for treatment of LGBTQ+ citizens.

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