Why Uganda is proposing a new, tougher anti-gay law

The proposed Uganda legislation would criminalize homosexuality, and could be potentially more far-reaching than the anti-gay law that a court struck down in August. 

Rebecca Vassie/AP/File
A transgender Ugandan poses in front of a rainbow flag during the 3rd Annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride celebrations in Entebbe, Uganda, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. Scores of Ugandan homosexuals and their supporters held a gay pride parade on a beach in the lakeside town of Entebbe. The parade was their first public event since a Ugandan court invalidated an anti-gay law that was widely condemned by some Western governments and rights watchdogs.

A new anti-gay law in Uganda will avoid reference to homosexuality and focus on the existing penal code prohibiting "unnatural acts."

The new legislation, which is expected to be introduced in the next two months, would result in seven-year jail sentences for people "promoting homosexuality," according to The Guardian.

An unnamed government official told the BBC that the new law would withstand legal challenge, and legislation against gay people would boost government approval ratings.

But pressure from Western governments could quash efforts to criminalize homosexuality in the so-called Prohibition of Promotion of Unnatural Sexual Practices Bill.

The anonymous minister called the bill a "streamlined version" of the annulled Anti-Homosexuality Act, according to the BBC.

That original law – which mandated jail terms of up to life for those convicted of engaging in gay sex and allowed lengthy terms for "attempted homosexuality" as well as "promotion of homosexuality" – was declared illegal by Uganda's Constitutional Court in August because it was passed without a parliamentary quorum.

But the colonial-era law criminalizing sex acts "against the order of nature" is still in effect.

And activists are calling the new legislative proposal more draconian than the act that was repealed in August.

Frank Mugisha, a gay-rights activist, told The Guardian that the "promotion" part of the law would affect "everyone," including newspapers who cover homosexuality and human rights groups that address LGBT issues. He also said it would increase violence against gay people.

While President Yoweri Museveni's party has been pushing for anti-gay legislation in the socially conservative country, he has hesitated because of the economic impact of a crackdown.  

Although the legislation has wide support in Uganda, it has been condemned in the West.

The United States cut aid to the country after it passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, and those funds haven't been reinstated, a sign that foreign donors are watching for the Uganda's next step, the BBC reported.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Why Uganda is proposing a new, tougher anti-gay law
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today