10 2 / 2014
I’m not normally one to do this but this is important.
I studied abroad in Uganda in the fall. While there I researched several bills violating human rights, including the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This bill included life in prison as a punishment for repeat acts of homosexuality and significant jail time for individuals or organizations that promote homosexuality.
During the last session of Parliament in 2013 the bill was passed in a surprise vote (which was not entirely constitutional, but let’s focus on the bill itself for now).
Just to restate: if this bill becomes law, homosexuals could be imprisoned for life, and individuals/organizations supporting homosexuality in any way could also face significant jail time.
The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has 30 days to act on that bill, a period that ends on Feb. 23. He is on a retreat right now and is speculated to have a decision made by Feb. 16. Here’s how this situation can go down:
- Museveni can sign the bill into law (bad) and that’s that.
- Museveni can veto the bill (good!).
- Museveni can return the bill to Parliament with or without amendments.
Now, option 3 may sound good, but according to Uganda’s Constitution, a bill can become law without the president’s signature if it goes back to Parliament twice; that’s when Parliament gets to vote on it again, and with a two-thirds majority, the bill becomes law. Just like that.
Let’s take a moment to remember that Parliament has already voted this bill through once. The majority of Ugandans are very homophobic; a Member of Parliament (MP) once told me that his entire constituency supports this bill. Exaggeration or not, there is support for this bill in Uganda.
The best way to get President Museveni to veto this bill right now is to demonstrate that the international community is NOT OKAY with it. International donors have threatened to pull funding, which many people theorize is the only reason he hasn’t signed the bill yet. Not many people are aware of what’s going on. But, if you’ve gotten this far, you know.
Today, Feb. 10th, is a Global Day of Action against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill (check out Amnesty International [www.amnesty.org] for more information). If you support basic human rights for everyone, please speak up. There’s only so much the international community can do, but we should make every effort to help in the ways we can. It’s time for Uganda’s LGBT community to hear from us.
Thank you guys for reading this!
25 5 / 2013