I think it has been about a year since I last wrote about homophobia in Africa. Despite a long history of man on man loving (as with everywhere else) many Ugandans still see homosexuality as immoral and un-African. For some time now a law has been discussed which would make homosexual acts capital offences. Gay Star News report that this process is about to reach fruition:
The law will broaden the criminalization of same-sex relationships by dividing homosexuality into two categories; aggravated homosexuality and the offense of homosexuality.
‘Aggravated homosexuality’ is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders. If convicted, they will face the death penalty.
The ‘offense of homosexuality’ includes same-sex sexual acts or being in a gay relationship, and will be prosecuted by life imprisonment.
Last year I wrote about a campaign to save Robert Segwanyi from deportation. The campaign was ultimately successful and Robert was saved. Unfortunately, it does not appear that Uganda will be saved from this law.
A google search turns up few active campaigns. Certainly when this was last in the news in 2011 there were many petitions, marches and campaigns. Perhaps all repressive regimes need to learn to suppress their people while America’s liberal campaigners are trying to get someone elected. Although I don’t want to belittle the efforts of African campaigners, it seems the most successful pressure on Ugandan politicians has been external.
If you’re spare and have time to spare, a polite email to Alitwala Rebecca Kadaga or Atim Ogwal Cecilia Barbara could be in order. They are two women representatives actively promoting the Bill. You can also write to your own MP asking them to lobby similarly.
The Bill has been stopped once, it can be stopped again, and again if necessary. However, it does require that these missives are backed up with material threats. That implies the possibility of cutting aid if this Bill is passed, piling misery upon misery. Uganda is clearly in need of aid, it remains very poor, and the tying of aid to particular policy stances has a chequered history to say the least, but I think it is worth threatening its withdrawal – this is a matter of life and death after all.