By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com November 12 2012 11:17 AM ET
Uganda’s Parliament will pass a controversial antigay bill before the end of this year, according to the leader of the lawmaking body.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told the Associated Press that Parliament would pass the law, which originally included the death penalty for some homosexual acts, because Ugandans “are demanding it.” Some Christian leaders at a meeting Friday in Kampala asked the speaker to pass the law as “a Christmas gift,” and she said Parliament would consider the bill within two weeks.
‘‘Who are we not to do what they have told us? These people should not be begging us,’’ she said.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but since 2009, lawmakers led by David Bahati have argued the country needs a stronger antigay law to curtail the influence of Western activists. Bahati and others including American evangelist Scott Lively have claimed that LGBT activists “recruit” Ugandan children.
Ugandan LGBT activists told the AP that the bill, which has generated condemnation from the United States and Europe, has drawn attention to their plight. Activist Pepe Julian Onziema said he and colleagues would seek a meeting with Kadaga.
Global campaign group Avaaz condemned the plan announced by Kadaga. The group launched a petition that garnered 1.6 million signers in an effort to stop the bill last year.
‘‘Sentencing people to life in prison for love is not a ‘Christmas gift,’ it’s a sickening violation of human rights,’’ said campaign director Emma Ruby-Sachs in a statement. ‘‘Hate speech by MPs has reached fever pitch in Uganda with politicians desperate to sacrifice its citizens. Governments and world citizens are unanimous in condemning this gay hate bill, we urge Uganda’s leaders to heed that call.”