Parliamentary debate on the Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill is moving forward, though government officials said Wednesday that they do not support reintroduction of the antigay measure, the Associated Press reports.
“As a parliamentary democracy the process of debate will continue,” officials said in a statement. “Whilst the government of Uganda does not support this bill, it is required under our constitution to facilitate this debate.”
The measure was originally introduced in 2009 by David Bahati and called for same-sex sexual activity to be punishable with the death penalty or life imprisonment. Bahati reintroduced the bill on Tuesday, claiming it no longer includes the death penalty provision. But numerous bloggers who watch the issue say not only does life imprisonment remain as the sentence for “aggravated homosexuality,” but also death remains an option in cases including those with HIV or who are deemed serial offenders.
Warren Throckmorton has followed the issue closely, and he points out that the Ugandan government claimed in its statement that, "Contrary to reports, the bill before parliament even if it were to pass, would not sanction the death penalty for homosexual behavior in Uganda." Throckmorton sees that as a specious interpretation of the proposed law. "What is confusing here, and perhaps intentionally so, is the statement above that the bill would not lead to the death penalty," he writes. "The plain language of the bill does require it for HIV positive people and serial offenders. And, let’s remember, life in a Ugandan prison is also called for in this bill for any homosexual intimacy."
Throckmorton shared video today of the moment when the bill got its first reading after being re-introduced in Uganda.
"This is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa, and also protect the future of our children," Bahati has said about the bill. "Every single day of my life now I am still pushing that it passes.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story cited an Associated Press report that claimed the death penalty was no longer at play in the current version of the bill.