In the next few weeks the Ugandan parliament is poised to bring back a bill that would sentence lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to imprisonment and in some cases death. In a recent speech 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 nation. Millions around the world have joined Ugandans in calling for an end to the "kill the gays" bill, but after weeks of posturing, the parliament officially added the bill to its schedule Wednesday.
"Death and imprisonment are sentences that should be reserved for only the worst crimes, not for living openly and loving who you choose," says Andre Banks, executive director of All Out, a global movement fighting for LGBT equality. "Ugandans are calling upon their government to put an end to the 'Kill the Gays' bill once and for all. All Out members from all over the world have stood with Ugandans before, and today they have take up that call again. We will not rest until this bill is deposited in the waste bin of history."
When a version of the bill was introduced in 2011, more than 500,000 people signed an All Out petition in just three days.
"At the time, we knew there was a chance it might resurface. The speaker vowed to bring back the bill, and we vowed to stand with our partners in Uganda and fight if she did," says Banks.
The bill has been scheduled for an "order of business to follow" and could be voted on this week. It is expected to easily pass, and then it will be up to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to veto the bill. His veto could be overturned by the assembly.
"This bill won't stop us," says Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). "We will continue to fight until we are free of this legislation. We cannot have oppression forever."
Homosexual acts are already considered a crime in Uganda and can lead to 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 with a minor. 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 speaker in 2011.
Join All Out and Ugandans by calling for a presidential veto of the bill immediately. Visit allout.org/uganda.