Uganda is steps away from passing an anti-homosexuality bill by the end of this year that could send many of the country’s 500,000 LGBT citizens to jail for life.
The legislation, known as the “Kill the Gays” bill, was first submitted to parliament in 2009, but was held for debate the following year. The bill was re-introduced at the beginning of this year, and current Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has been quoted saying that she will pass the bill as a “Christmas gift” to the country.
“This legislation could step on the floor of parliament any day from now before Christmas, and the chances it will pass are very high,” said Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan LGBT advocate and human rights activist on msnbc Monday morning. “A big percentage of members of parliament do support this legislation and those that don’t support it are likely not to vote against it because it is a popular issue in Uganda.”
Mugisha and human rights activist Kerry Kennedy, founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, joined Thomas Roberts to discuss the controversial bill that has activists around the world speaking out.
“Uganda is one of the worst places on earth for gay, lesbian, transgender rights. Being gay is illegal in more countries than it is legal, so it is a worldwide problem,” Kennedy said.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the proposed bill would increase punishment to those caught, including longer jail terms and possible life sentences. The original text of the bill proposed the death penalty as a possible penalty, but BBC News confirmed last week that that provision has been dropped.
While the bill has received global criticism, it has also received support in America from conservative voices such as Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren and conversion therapist Richard Cohen, both who have attempted to distance themselves from the bill without condemning it entirely.