While the infamous Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, better known as the “Kill the Gays” bill, was struck down four years ago, it could make a return. This week, members of parliament called for the Uganda anti-gay law to be re-introduced.
This week, a motion was brought to praise Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga (pictured above) for her work against LGBT! rights. Kadaga, who was also one of the leaders behind the original “Kill the Gays” bill, spoke at an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) last month.
During her speech, she accused the IPU president, Gabriella Barroza, of trying to include a pro-LGBTQ motion during the summit. She claimed it was done without consent from African and Asian representatives. She also said Uganda and other homophobic countries would withdraw from the Union if it ever endorsed LGBTQ rights.
The original 2009 draft of the Kill the Gays bill called for the death penalty as punishment to anyone who practiced homosexuality. Though the bill evolved, by the time it was passed in 2014, it “only” called for life imprisonment. That bill passed in February 2014, but it was struck down by Uganda’s Constitutional Court that August on a procedural technicality.
But even though the bill was struck down, public debate about it contributed the the already dangerous atmosphere for LGBTQ folk in Uganda, where homosexuality is still illegal. Last year, police shut down Uganda Pride, just like they did the year before. They use forced anal exams to “prove” people’s suspected homosexuality. As a result of the anti-gay crackdowns, LGBTQ event organizers often plan ways to keep police away from their events.
LGBTQ Ugandans continue to report widespread discrimination, harassment and fear of being reported to the authorities just for their sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2006 and 2010, Ugandan newspapers published the names of people believed to be homosexual.
The 2010 case was particularly heinous — the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. magazine) published the names, addresses and photographs of believed-LGBTQ people, along with a call for their execution. Though in 2011, a judge issued an injunction preventing Rolling Stone from publishing any more identifying details, that year, David Kato, the LGBTQ activist who sued the newspaper was murdered shortly after winning the lawsuit.