Petitioners urged to act now against Uganda's 'death to gays' bill

By staff writers
23 Nov 2012

The Ugandan Parliament is set to pass a brutal law that could carry the death penalty for homosexuality, and campaigners are lobbying hard against it.

After a massive global outcry last year, Ugandan President Museveni blocked the bill's progress in the country's parliament.

But political unrest is mounting in Uganda, and religious extremists are hoping confusion and violence in the streets will distract the international community from a second push to pass what is being described as "a hate-filled law."

The critical time is the next 24 hours, human rights activists said yesterday afternoon (22 November 2012).

"Being gay in Uganda is already dangerous and terrifying," they explain. "LGBT Ugandans are regularly harassed and beaten, and just last year gay rights activist David Kato was brutally murdered in his own home."

Kato was a Christian. But sadly many church leaders in Uganda are either colluding with or remaining silent about the bill. There has also been a massive, community based misinformation campaign across the country, associating homosexuality with a whole range of heinous behaviours.

The draconian law which could impose life imprisonment for people convicted of same-sex relations, and the death penalty for “serial offenders”. Even NGOs working to prevent the spread of HIV can be imprisoned for activities deemed “promoting homosexuality”, which effectively means any support or work with LGBT people.

Uganda is currently in political turmoil, missing millions of aid money in a way that has embroiled the parliament in scandal. Anti-gay campaigners have perceived in this situation the ideal chance to slip in the shelved anti-homosexuality bill, dubbing it a "Christmas gift" to Ugandans.

Last time, an international petition condemning the gay death penalty law was delivered to the Ugandan parliament – spurring a global news story and enough pressure to block the bill for months.

When a tabloid newspaper published 100 names, pictures and addresses, of suspected gays and those identified were threatened, petition group Avaaz supported a legal case against the paper and won.

"Together we have stood up, time and time again, for Uganda’s gay community. Now they need us more than ever," declared Avaaz yesterday.

* International petition: http://www.avaaz.org/en/uganda_stop_gay_death_law/?bYqfsbb&v=19428

[Ekk/3]

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