Though Uganda’s original “Kill the Gays” bill was thwarted, the African country’s government has announced that it would revisit the legislation and expand on it in the coming weeks. According to reports, new plans include not only mandating the death penalty for homosexuality but would criminalizing “anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment.”
“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,” Simon Lokodo, the country’s Ethics and Integrity Minister, told Reuters. “Our current penal law is limited. It only criminalizes the act. We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalized. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence.”
The moves echo legislation enacted in Brunei earlier this year. Both nations have colonial-era laws on the book that criminalize gay sex but have recently moved to raise the stakes. In the case of Brunei, its death penalty law was defanged after international backlash, but Uganda says it will not waver in the face of pushback.
“We don’t like blackmailing,” Lokodo said. “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.”
When other countries have moved to pass anti-LGBTQ+ laws , international players have threatened to cut off aid and diplomatic relations. The same can be expected here.
The original “Kill the Gays” bill was passed in 2014 but later nullified on a technicality by Ugandan courts. An original version of that law specified capital punishment as possible retribution for same-sex relations. After backlash, it was altered to only life imprisonment. But even with the bill gone, those found to be in a same-sex relationship can still be sentenced to seven years in prison and those engaged in homosexual sex could potentially be sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 2017, Pride organizers canceled their festivities "to protect" themselves, and in 2016 police raided the event, allegedly assaulting bystanders and arresting at least 16 people.
This new bill is expected to be presented to parliament in the next few weeks and its authors hope to have it signed into law by the end of the year.