Bloomberg News

Uganda Passes Law Punishing Homosexuality With Life in Prison

December 20, 2013

Uganda’s parliament passed a bill that seeks to punish homosexuality by giving sentences to offenders of as long as life imprisonment.

The bill was passed today after a voice vote and will become law when President Yoweri Museveni gives assent, Mohammed Katamba, a spokesman for the Parliament, said by phone from the capital, Kampala.

Human-rights activists, including the Kampala-based Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, oppose the bill because of tough penalties that gives sentences equal to terrorism offenses.

The bill give a life sentence for those convicted of homosexual acts with minors. Lawmaker Fox Odoi will challenge the bill in court, according to the Parliament’s Twitter feed.

“Two members on the committee which drafted the bill opposed it and wrote a minority report,” Katamba said, without naming the people.

The bill initially sought a death penalty for offenders with minors, which was dropped for a life sentence because of the East African nation’s plans to ratify the United Nations convention against capital punishment, Simon Lokodo, the minister of state for ethics and integrity, said in December last year.

“The removal of the death penalty is a concession, but life imprisonment and a raft of other alarming provisions remain,” Maria Burnett, senior researcher in the Africa division of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “President Museveni should reject the bill and send a clear message that Uganda doesn’t stand for this type of intolerance and discrimination.”

Lawmaker David Bahati in February last year reintroduced the bill that he first proposed in 2009, arguing that penalties for offenders under the current laws are lenient.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Ojambo in Kampala pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.


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