Lesbian and Gay Christians speak out against Uganda’s proposed “Anti-Homosexuality” Bill
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement joins with people around the world in condemning a proposed Bill before the Ugandan parliament which could lead, in some cases, to the death penalty for homosexual acts.
A Private Member’s Bill being proposed in Uganda is among the world’s most draconian legislation against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people. The Bill which aims to “deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family” has widespread support from a number of Ugandan MPs, and it, would seem, considerable government support.
The planned Bill would legislate against responsible education and information about homosexuality, and support for homosexuals. Punishments could range from 3 years imprisonment to the death sentence. A catch all clause in the Bill even covers any Ugandan homosexuals who might break the law while abroad. Clause 17 of the Bill also makes anyone charged under the Act liable to extradition.
The Bill would also hold responsible for illegal activities those who are in positions of trust, from Church leaders to organisations aimed at helping people living with HIV/AIDS. The Bill says that all people in positions of trust are obligated to aid in enforcing the law. This means anyone with “power and control over other people because of your knowledge and official position”, and includes anyone who ”exercises religious, political, economic or social authority“.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda and can be punished with life imprisonment. But the anti-homosexuality legislation, proposed by ruling party MP David Bahati on October 14th 2009, was designed to "fill the gaps" in the provisions of existing laws.
A coalition of human rights and civil society groups led by Human Rights Watch have blasted the measure for attacking human rights protections and placing "everybody" at risk – including parents, teachers, landlords, doctors, media and religious leaders and those who provide counselling to anyone struggling with their sexuality or work with those infected with HIV/AIDS. Anyone who does not report an offence within 24 hours of their gaining knowledge of such is liable to prosecution.
Rev. Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive of LGCM, said: “I am horrified at the possibility that this law might be passed. It is entirely unjust, cruel and can only strike terror in the hearts of LGBT people, their families, friends and supporters. I am particularly distressed that many Christian groups including Churches in the Anglican Communion in Uganda appear to be supporting the proposals.
“The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement appeal to all people of faith regardless of their views on homosexuality to roundly condemn this Bill. The discussion we need to have right now is not about the morality of homosexuality but the morality of this law. We are grateful that Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, the largest evangelical church in the US, has spoken out clearly against this Bill but too many other Christian leaders are woefully silent. Christians of all backgrounds must unite in taking action against this Bill."