As if the societal witch-hunt is not enough, Parliament of Uganda yesterday committed to re-tabling the Anti-Homosexuality Bill by 28th October 2019, at the latest. This new development was confirmed by the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity Fr. Simon Lokodo in an interview with Thomas Reuters. The new bill which calls for the death penalty of persons found guilty of engaging in same sex relations is expected to be passed before the year is out.
The new bill will not only mandate the death penalty for homosexuality but also criminalise anyone who is involved in what government consistently refers to as recruitment and promotion. “Our current penal law is limited. It only criminalises the act. We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalised. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence,” Fr. Lokodo said in the Thomas Reuters interview.
The community is not only outraged but also shaken given the previous effects of the AHB; the passing of the bill into law in 2014 saw an increase in the attacks towards LGBT persons, evictions, loss of jobs as well as a spike in mental health issues within the community. Also most notable was the influx of numbers of Ugandan LGBT refugees that crossed into Kenya for fear of the insecurity in Uganda.
"The timing of the resurrection of the bill is callous - #LGBTIQ people are being used as a scapegoat as elections approach. Violence against us has escalated in recent months, countless community members have fled, and I fear it will only get worse. We urgently need support from the international community if we are to stand up against the witch hunt being launched against us,” Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, ED Kuchu Times reacted to the re-tabling of the bill.
"One would think with the current community killings in the past three months, they would discuss protections and try to pretend to condemn the killings but a full human being with a title of minister asking for killing and imprisonment of us... For the entire time he's been minister, his obsession has and is LGBTIQ people... speak of self-homophobia,” Qwin F Mbabazi said as she noted the continued silence that surrounds the rampant and senseless killing of LGBT Ugandans.
Speaking to Outright International, Pepe Julian Onziema the Programs Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda said, “Hundreds of LGBT+ people have been forced to leave the country as refugees and more will follow if this law is enacted. It will criminalise us from even advocated for LGBT+ rights, let alone supporting and protecting sexual minorities.”
This is the second time this year that legislators are stressing their commitment to bring the infamous ‘Kill the Gays’ bill back to the floor of Parliament. In April, Hon Cecilia Ogwal was quoted as saying “We must preserve our values. Let us not just talk; let us bring this law and pass it,” as she called for the re-introduction of the bill. Also in support of this archaic motion, Member of Parliament for Soroti Municipality Hon. Herbert Ariko said that a law should not only be proper but must take into consideration the moral fibre of the nation, the act or bill which was nullified by court must become one of the urgent business of this House.
It should be remembered that this bill was first tabled in 2009, passed in December 2013 and signed into law in February 2014. It was however annulled in August 2014 with court ruling it invalid on procedural grounds. The passing of the bill further spiked a culture of extreme and violent homophobia whereby both state and non-state actors are free to persecute Uganda's LGBTI people with impunity.