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Uganda introduces 'Kill the Gays' bill

October 11, 2019

Ugandan lawmakers have re-introduced a bill that could impose the death penalty for gay sex acts. The proposed bill will also criminalize the "promotion and recruitment" of homosexuality.

Image of a man with a sticker reading "some Ugandans are gay, get over it" at a gay pride parade in Uganda in 2014
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/R. Vassie

A bill that would mean harsh penalties for gay sex in Uganda was introduced to the national assembly on Friday, five years after a similar bill failed to garner enough support to become law.

The proposal has been called the "Kill the Gays" bill — as it would introduce the death penalty for gay sex acts.

The state minister for ethics and integrity, Simon Lodoko, said it is not good enough that the current penal code "only criminalizes the act," adding that it needs to punish anyone "even involved in the promotion and recruitment" of homosexuality.

"Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans," he said in a statement. "But there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that."

"Those that do grave acts will be given the death penalty," he said.

Lodoko believes the legislation will successfully pass, saying that anti-gay lawmakers have "remobilized" in the parliament.

Read more: Anti-gay sentiment on the rise in Africa 

The last public gay pride parade in Uganda in 2014
The last public gay pride parade in Uganda in 2014Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/R. Vassie

'Ugandans are really tired'

LGBT+ people in Uganda have long been on the receiving end of legal and cultural discrimination. But after the initial bill was thrown out in 2014 there was hope among activists that this could be the end for such legislation.

Ugandan gay rights activist Dr. Frank Mugisha said the Ugandan LGBT+ community would fight the bill.

"Once they bring the bill we will fight it the same way we fought the other one," he told the Associated Press. "Ugandans are really tired. This is not an issue for Ugandans now."

Lawmakers backing the bill want to see it become law by the end of the year.

The original law was only invalidated on a technicality, as the parliament lacked a quorum.

According to Human Rights Watch, 32 African nations have laws criminalizing homosexuality. Anti-gay laws are often leftovers from the colonial era, one reason gay rights activists have fought vigorously to have the laws removed.

ed/stb (AP, Reuters) 

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