They’re at it again: The Ugandan legislature is set to vote – again – on a piece of legislation known internationally as the “kill the gays” bill.
Since 2009, Ugandan parliamentary member David Bahati has been trying to amend current Ugandan law (up to 14 years imprisonment for being gay) to throw LGBT Ugandans in prison for life. An LGBT Ugandan could earn this sentence for simply being in a relationship with someone he or she loves. His sick, twisted dream also includes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” In Bahati-speak, aggravated homosexuality includes "serial offenders" (having sex with the same person multiple times) and those who have gay sex with a disabled person. Seriously.
Bahati claims that the most recent version of this disgusting violation of human rights does not contain the death penalty. We’ve seen this sort of thing for three years: the international community pressures the Ugandan legislature to abandon the bill and they eventually do or say it’s going to be amended. Then it dies…only to reanimate like the undead the next year.
Once the legislature passes it, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will either sign it into law or veto it, in which case it is expected the legislature will override his veto.
This is the same David Bahati who revealed it is his goal to use the government of Uganda “to kill every last gay person.”
Currently, members of the international LGBT community face life imprisonment and death in many nations. On the same planet where same-sex couples can wed in nearly a dozen countries (and nine U.S. states), a large but thankfully shrinking portion of the world still treats homosexuality as a sickness and crime to be punished and snuffed out.
What is perhaps most disturbing about this bill is the fact that it was inspired by the same ideas that many “family” groups use here in America.
Bahati is one of the Ugandan leaders of a powerful and secretive far-right evangelical organization known as “The Family.” Despite The Family’s claims that they are not responsible for the hate in Uganda, Jeff Sharlet of Harper’s Magazine and Rolling Stone points out:
“They didn’t pull the trigger [by writing such a bill]. But there’s a sense in which they built the gun, which was the institutional idea of government being decided by small groups of elite leaders like Bahati, getting together and trying to conform government to their idea of Biblical law…this is what their American benefactors wanted them to do.”
For four decades, so-called “pro-family” groups have been screaming bloody murder because the government and society at large have had the gall to grant gays and lesbians the same rights and protections that all citizens enjoy.
Gays and lesbians have been routinely called “perverts,” “degenerates,” “child molesters,” “sodomizers,” and “sick” by groups whose sole purpose it is to “protect” America from things like equality and equal pay. Be afraid, America!
One example is the influential Family Research Council, headed by former Louisiana lawmaker Tony Perkins. Last year it was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its consistent dissemination of hate and lies against the LGBT community.
Not all “pro-family” groups are given the hate group certification. It’s when they start citing discredited studies and phony statistics to attack gays and lesbians as degenerates that the label is then rightfully applied.
Before he claimed he never supported the "kill the gays" bill, Perkins praised it as a way “to uphold moral conduct” and a tool that Bahati could use to lead “his nation to repentance.” It turns out hate and ignorance have consequences....like inspiring loons like Bahati.
Thankfully, this hate and ignorance of the LGBT community is continually decreasing. As the 21st century continues more and more people are realizing that gays and lesbians are just like everybody else (shocker, right?!). Nine, and possibly soon to be ten, states now recognize gays and lesbians as equal citizens. The number of nations that are legalizing marriage equality grows by the month as well.
At the same time, ideals from the 16th century are making one last stand before dying out like the infection on humanity they are. Uganda is sadly one of many nations where LGBT persons face intense persecution and possibly their lives for being who they are. The international community must continue to pressure and possibly sanction Uganda for its gross human rights violations.
Call me idealistic or American, but governments are supposed to treat and protect all citizens equally. It is absolutely unacceptable for any nation to treat its citizens the way Uganda currently does. It is vital to everyone that the medicine of truth and knowledge be administered, and soon.