Homosexuals in Uganda blame the new law on the effect that American evangelicals are having on religious and political leaders as they spread their anti-homosexual campaigns in Africa.
Although homophobia is widespread across Uganda, most gays were starting to believe that they were making progress, especially after the first gay pride parade in 2012. Some gays were feeling confident enough to join human rights supporters in street marches.
Uganda’s prominent gay rights activist, Frank Mugisha, proclaimed the bill “the worst in the world” and pleaded with Museveni to not sign the bill, therefore making it law.
The new bill was widely supported across Uganda, with most people saying the government had every right to create laws to protect Ugandan children.
Because of international criticism, the bill had been put on hold repeatedly and under protest. The speaker of the parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, threatened late last year that the bill would be passed as a “Christmas gift” to Ugandans. Kadaga herself led the session that passed the bill on Friday, even though the Prime Minister of Uganda, Amama Mbabazi, requested that the vote be delayed.
At the time the bill was first presented, US President Barack Obama labeled it “odious.” Human rights group Human Rights Now has called on Obama to urge Museveni to not sign the bill.
Uganda, which wants to dole out a life sentence for being gay, is not the only African country to criminalize homosexuality. According to a report made public earlier this year by Amnesty International, 70 percent of the African continent, comprised of 38 countries, have laws in place against homosexual activity.
By Jennifer Pfalz
The Garden Island