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Uganda LGBT activists: Keep up international pressure against "Kill The Gays" bill

SAN DIEGO – Uganda’s draconian “Kill The Gays” bill is very much alive and well in Parliament, warns two top LGBT activists from that landlocked African nation.

All Out hosted an international conference call today featuring Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, and Kasha Jacqueline, executive director of Freedom and Roam Uganda.

Both activists said the “Kill The Gays” bill has moved out of committee, and Frank said it can be considered “any day now” by the full Parliament.

They disputed a widely publicized report by Medard Segona, a member of Parliament, who told the media late last week that the death penalty had been removed from the controversial bill.

Both activists pointed out that the current bill has not been independently reviewed by anyone outside of Parliament.

“We haven’t seen the bill,” Frank said.

Kasha said she believes that the Parliament panel that worked on the bill tweaked the wording of the bill to make it seem less harsh. She said the bill probably has had “just a change of language” and may remove the words “death penalty” but will then refer to Section 129 of the Uganda Penal Code, which includes the death penalty.

The last time the bill was publicly view it proposed this

Aggravated homosexuality is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders. Those convicted of this felony would be executed.

Offense of homosexuality is defined as same-sex sexual acts or being involved in a same-sex relationship. Those convicted of this felony would be sentence to life in prison.

“Until the Ugandan Parliament makes the current bill public, we must assume the bill contains the death penalty for gays,” said Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of All Out.

“More than 200,000 people from Africa and around the world, have joined All Out’s call for Uganda to drop the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill,” Banks said. “Ugandan leaders must realize the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill is not in the best interest of Uganda's future.”

Uganda is one of 76 countries where it is illegal to be gay. The “Kill The Gays” bill – the Anti-Homosexuality Bill authored by the homophobic MP David Bahati -- is one of the harshest is the world, and it is supported by various Religious Right organizations in the U.S.

Since its debut in 2009, the “Kill The Gays” bill has been universally condemned by the western world, including by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

LGBT activists and allies from around the world have rallied against the bill.

The continuation of international pressure is vital, the activists said, but Kasha noted that that All Out’s petition is drawing mostly signers from western nations. “We need more support from Asia and other parts of the world,” she said. "Ugandan lawmakers need to know the world is still watching now."

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

But Parliament exploded this week over a major oil bill, and the Speaker adjourned the session until Monday to let emotions subside. The activists said the “Kill The Gays” bill could be taken up by Parliament as soon as next week, once the fate of the oil bill is settled.

How to get involved

To sign the All Out petition, click HERE.

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.