Even though human rights groups were against it, Ugandan lawmakers brought a bill to parliament on Thursday that would make the punishments for same-sex relationships even harsher in a country where homosexuality is already illegal. The bill has been sent to a house committee for review by the Speaker of the House, Annet Anita Among. This is the first step in a streamlined process that will lead to the proposal being written into law in the long run.
She told the parliamentary body in a speech full of homophobic language that there would be “a public hearing” in which members of sexual minorities could take part. “Let the public come, express their views, and allow them to come, including the homosexuals,” she said.
The bill is being brought up at a time when conservative Ugandans are using social media more and more to spread conspiracy theories that say unknown international forces are making people gay. Whoever participates in activities with people of the same sexual orientation or “holds out” as being a member of the LGBTQ community could face a maximum sentence of ten years in prison under the new law that is being proposed.
It is not possible to predict how long the process of going through Parliament will take. When the time came, it was said that legislators would cast their votes on the measure one at a time in front of their colleagues. She challenged him by saying, “This is the time you are going to show us if you are a homo or not.”
Uganda is infamous for its intolerance of homosexuality, which is a crime in the country due to laws that were passed during the colonial era, as well as its strict Christian views on sexuality in general. But since 1962, when the country got its independence from the United Kingdom, no one has been convicted of having same-sex sexual activity with another adult who agreed to it.
Rights groups say that the law would make it easier for people to hurt a minority group that is already weak. In 2014, Ugandan lawmakers passed a bill that called for people caught engaging in homosexual sex to be sentenced to life in prison; however, a court later struck down the law as unconstitutional.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated on Thursday that the recently passed legislation was “a revised and more egregious version” of the bill that was passed in 2014. A researcher for HRW in Uganda, Oryem Nyeko, says that politicians in Uganda should stop using LGBT people as political pawns and instead focus on passing laws that protect vulnerable minorities and affirm basic rights. “Ugandan politicians should focus on passing laws that protect vulnerable minorities and affirm fundamental rights,” said Nyeko.
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