Ugandan ‘Kill the Gays’ bill appears stalled

According to international equality rights group All Out, the Ugandan Parliament has failed to pass a bill that would sentence lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to death before closing for the end-of-year recess.

In a recent speech, Rebecca Kadaga, Ugandan Parliament Speaker, promised to bring a vote on the proposed law – first introduced in 2009 – as “a Christmas gift” to the population. After weeks of posturing, the bill was officially moved to the bottom of the Parliament’s schedule today, before adjourning until February 2013.  LGBT and human rights organizations in Uganda celebrated the moment, while committing themselves to continue the fight should the bill return next year.

“This bill won’t stop us,” said Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda. “We will continue to fight until we are free of this legislation. We cannot have oppression forever.”

All Out led a chorus of protest across the globe in support of Ugandan organizations calling for an end to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  Over two years, All Out mobilized more than 750,000 people in every region to mobilize the public and national governments to act decisively against the law.  In response to this effort, an anonymous donor today challenged the global membership of All Out to continue the fight against anti-gay laws around the world, promising to donate US $50,000 to a new global fund if 2,000 of All Out’s members commit to a small donation to fight laws like the one in Uganda.

“This is a victory for Ugandans who have risked everything to demand fairness, justice and the ability to live openly and love who they choose,” says Andre Banks, Executive Director and Co-Founder of All Out, the world’s largest global movement fighting for LGBT equality. “All Out members from all over the world have raised their voice and they have been heard.  But we are not finished.  Parliament reopens in February and this generous matching grant could provide the support we need to fight this bill and dozens like it around the world.”

Gay or lesbian acts are already considered a crime in Uganda, and can lead up to 14 years in prison. While the final bill has not been made publicly available, allegedly the proposed law, nicknamed the “Kill the Gays Bill”, makes the existing legislation even stricter, establishing life imprisonment as the punishment for being in a same-sex relationship and the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which is loosely defined as a homosexual act committed by an HIV-positive person or acts with minors.  So-called “serial offenders” would also face the death penalty.

Ugandans have been fighting back against the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill since 2009 when David Bahati first introduced the bill. The bill was shelved after Ugandans and the international community decried the legislation until Rebecca Kadaga resurfaced the bill when she became speaker in 2011.

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