Earlier today, Ugandan lawmakers announced plans to reintroduce a death penalty bill for gay citizens.
The bill, which is being referred to as a “Kill the Gays” bill, was nullified five years ago on a technicality. But now, Simon Lokodo, the Ethics and Integrity Minister shares that the government wants to curb a rise in “unnatural sex” within the country.
“’Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that,” said Lokodo.
“Our current penal law is limited. It only criminalises the act. We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalised. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence.”
The bill will be reintroduced to parliament in the next few weeks and then should be voted on sometime before the end of the year. Lokodo not only says that the bill is supported by President Yoweri Museveni, but also asserts his confidence that the bill will pass with the necessary two-thirds of parliament requirement.
“We have been talking to the MPs and we have mobilised them in big numbers,” said Lokodo. “Many are supportive.”
LGBTQ advocates have warned of increased discrimination and hate crimes if this bill is passed. This mimics similar cries heard back in 2014 when the initial bill was signed into passing by Museveni. The United States, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands all suspended or reduced aid to the country.
Despite that negative response at the last attempt, Lokodo says Uganda will take on any pushback this time around.
“It is a concern,” he said. “But we are ready. We don’t like blackmailing. Much as we know that this is going to irritate our supporters in budget and governance, we can’t just bend our heads and bow before people who want to impose a culture which is foreign to us.”
As with many African countries surrounding it, Uganda’s homophobic culture and legislature are leftover from British colonial rule. And now, the country’s lawmakers and citizens are ironically upholding that original British perspective in an effort to stall off current Western influence and pressure.
But at the end of the day, it’s LGBTQ citizens who are suffering from this conflict.