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All Out: Uganda Parliament adjourns, "Kill The Gays" bill in limbo

KAMPALA, Uganda – Parliament adjourned today without debating or voting on the draconian “Kill The Gays” bill. Lawmakers will not return to session until February 2013.

Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament, had vowed to pass the “Kill The Gays” bill as a “Christmas gift” to the nation.

Instead, Kadaga was at the Vatican getting blessed by the Pope – an action that is drawing widespread criticism.

International activists for human rights have been keeping up the pressure on Uganda’s lawmakers with phone calls, email campaigns and petitions. About 250,000 people have signed the All Out petition.

"This bill won’t stop us," said Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an All Out Ugandan partner. "We will continue to fight until we are free of this legislation. We cannot have oppression forever.”

All Out led a chorus of protest across the globe in support of Ugandan organizations calling for an end to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Across two years, All Out mobilized more than 750,000 people in every region to mobilize the public and national governments to act decisively against the law. In response to this effort, an anonymous donor today challenged the global membership of All Out to continue the fight against anti-gay laws around the world, promising to donate US $50,000 to a new global fund if 2,000 of All Out’s members commit to a small donation to fight laws like the one in Uganda.

“This is a victory for Ugandans who have risked everything to demand fairness, justice and the ability to live openly and love who they choose,” said Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of All Out, the world’s largest global movement fighting for LGBT equality. “All Out members from all over the world have raised their voice and they have been heard. But we are not finished. Parliament reopens in February and this generous matching grant could provide the support we need to fight this bill and dozens like it around the world.”

Gay or lesbian acts are already considered a crime in Uganda, and can lead up to 14 years in prison. While the final bill has not been made publicly available, allegedly the proposed law, nicknamed the “Kill the Gays Bill”, makes the existing legislation even stricter, establishing life imprisonment as the punishment for being in a same-sex relationship and the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," which is loosely defined as a homosexual act committed by an HIV-positive person or acts with minors. So-called “serial offenders” would also face the death penalty.

Ugandans have been fighting back against the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill since 2009 when David Bahati first introduced the bill. The bill was shelved after Ugandans and the international community decried the legislation until Rebecca Kadaga resurfaced the bill when she became speaker in 2011.

Today, All Out emailed its supporters around the globe to notify them that the bill remains in limbo as Parliament closes for the long holiday season. It also said it had a $50,000 matching grant to help fight the “Kill The Gays” bill, also known as the Bahati bill and formally as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. To contribute, click HERE.

“We know the nightmare won't stop at Uganda's borders. The "Kill the Gays" bill passing could also embolden homophobic government officials in other countries where LGBT lives are at stake. Nigeria has proposed a similarly draconian ‘Jail The Gays’ bill – which could pass any day now. There are more than 5 people fighting for their freedom in Cameroon after being charged under the existing anti-gay laws. We need to stop these horrific laws in t”heir tracks and erase those that already exist.
All Out is not funded by governments – so they can't control us. We're not funded by corporations – so they can't make us keep quiet. But that means we count on you when the stakes are high. That means we're counting on you right now.”

All Out said it would use donations to fight anti-gay legislation in the 76 countries where it is illegal to be gay.