Ugandan parliament to debate anti-gay bill today

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill will be discussed in the country’s parliament today.

It is thought that this debate will follow a second reading and and a vote will be taken in January after a third reading.

It would impose the death penalty on those convicted of having gay sex with a minor or disabled person or while infected with HIV. Friends and family members of gay Ugandans who do not report them to authorities could face up to three years in prison.

People who “promote” or assist homosexuality could be jailed for seven years. The bill would also punish Ugandan citizens who have gay sex abroad.

The bill’s sponsor, David Bahati MP, has argued that it will curb HIV infections and protect the “traditional family”.

It has been subject to worldwide condemnation and since the first reports emerged in mid-October, has received widespread media attention.

UK prime minister Gordon Brown told President Museveni last month of his concerns and the United Nations and the World Health Organisation have said that Uganda may lose the chance to host an important permanent Aids research organisation if the bill is passed.

This week, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to strongly condemn the bill. It called on Ugandan authorities “not to approve the bill and to review their laws to decriminalise homosexuality”.

The resolution also reminded the Ugandan government of its legally-binding obligations under international treaties as well as its inability to withdraw from ratified international human rights treaties.

Although main world powers such as the US have strongly condemned the bill, along with Sweden threatening to cut aid, Ugandan officials have been keen to stress they will not bow down to international pressure.

Many Ugandans believe homosexuality is an unnatural western import and see foreign interference as colonialism.

It is expected that the bill will receive strong support in Uganda’s parliament.