Uganda’s government announced plans Thursday to reintroduce a bill which would impose death penalty on homosexuals in the East African 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,” Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo 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 bill, popularly known as the “Kill the Gays”, was nullified five years ago on a technicality, but the government now has plans to resurrect it within weeks.
Homosexuality is prohibited in many African countries. Same-sex relationships are considered taboo and gay sex is a crime across most of the continent, with punishments ranging from imprisonment to death. As of 2016, same-sex sexual acts were outlawed in 33 of the 54 African countries recognized by the United Nations. Homosexuality is punishable by death in Sudan, Somalia, Mauritania and northern Nigeria.
According to Fox News, the sultan of Brunei announced plans earlier this year to make gay sex punishable by death through stoning or whipping, before walking back the plans after the news sparked an international outcry. Many U.S. celebrities, including Elton John and George Clooney, announced they would boycott hotels owned by Dorchester Collection Group, which a Brunei-owned investment agency runs. Several international banks, including J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, said they were banning their employees from staying at Dorchester-run hotels, such as the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles and its London flagship The Dorchester, as a protest.
Lokodo said the bill, which is supported by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, will be brought before parliament in the coming weeks and he expects it to be voted on or before end of the year. He was optimistic it would achieve the necessary two-thirds majority vote, as the government has lobbied legislators ahead of its re-introduction.
Uganda faced worldwide condemnation after the original “Kill the Gays” bill was signed into law in 2014. The U.S. reduced aid, imposed visa restrictions and canceled joint military exercises. The World Bank, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands also suspended or redirected aid.
‘We have been talking to the MPs and we have mobilized them in big numbers,’ Lokodo said. ‘Many are supportive.’ He said he was aware of the potential blowback.
“It is a concern,” Lokodo 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.”