Uganda’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill was approved by a parliamentary committee Friday, according to several media reports, and is moving toward a vote by the full Parliament.
The Committee of Jurisdiction OK’d the legislation, which would mandate harsh punishments for homosexual acts and pro-gay activism, and it is likely to come to the floor of Parliament before the body adjourns December 14, the Washington Blade reports. It is unclear, however, whether the bill still includes the death penalty in certain cases, such as multiple offenses or sex with an HIV-positive person. Some sources have reported that the provision was removed, but the committee has not released definitive information yet.
“I heard before that they took the death penalty provision out, and it turns out that wasn’t in fact the case — or that the way did it, the wording was still ambiguous,” Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, told the Blade. “My guess is — if they really bring this up for a vote, which it looks like they’re going to — given the international condemnation, they probably will take out the death penalty, but I just think it’s a little early to say definitively that they have taken it out until we see what they’re going to vote on.”
Homosexuality is already criminalized in Uganda, but this legislation would make matters much worse in the nation, activists say. “The bill does little more than to entrench stigma and prejudice, which will polarize the Ugandan society further and undermine public health efforts to combat the spread of HIV,” Sexual Minorities Uganda’s Frank Mugisha said in a prepared statement. “It places a total ban on public discussion of an issue whose existence cannot be wished away. If the bill is adopted, it will make Uganda a pariah in the international community. We therefore urge the Ugandan Parliament to reject this bill in its entirety.”