LGBT and human rights organizations in Uganda celebrated today as the Ugandan Parliament failed to pass a bill that would sentence lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people to death before closing for the end of year recess.
After weeks of posturing, at which time Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of the Ugandan parliament, promised to bring a vote on the proposed law – first introduced in 2009 – as “a Christmas gift” to the people of Uganda the bill was officially moved to the bottom of the Parliament’s schedule today, before adjourning until February 2013.
This is a victory for Ugandans who have risked everything to demand fairness, justice and the ability to live openly and love who they choose,” says Andre Banks, Executive Director and Co-Founder of All Out, the world’s largest global movement fighting for LGBT equality.
Gay or lesbian acts are already considered a crime in Uganda, and can lead up to 14 years in prison. While the final bill has not been made publicly available, allegedly the proposed law, nicknamed the “Kill the Gays Bill”, makes the existing legislation even stricter, establishing life imprisonment as the punishment for being in a same-sex relationship and the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which is loosely defined as a homosexual act committed by an HIV-positive person or acts with minors. So-called “serial offenders” would also face the death penalty.
Ugandans have been fighting back against the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill since 2009 when David Bahati first introduced the bill. The bill was shelved after Ugandans and the international community decried the legislation until Rebecca Kadaga resurfaced the bill when she became the speaker in 2011.