Gay rights activist Clair Byarugaba talks to journalists in Kampala on December 20, 2013.
Isaac Kasamani/Getty Images/AFP

Uganda advances brutal anti-gay measure

Uganda’s efforts to criminalize homosexuality have been a story The Rachel Maddow Show has followed for several years, so it’s worth emphasizing that a brutal piece of legislation was approved by Ugandan lawmakers late last week. As BBC’s report noted, the measure includes the possibility of life imprisonment for homosexual acts and prison time for those who fail to report gay people.
The MP behind the bill, David Bahati, told the AFP news agency: “This is victory for Uganda. I am glad the parliament has voted against evil.”
“Because we are a God-fearing nation, we value life in a holistic way. It is because of those values that members of parliament passed this bill regardless of what the outside world thinks,” he said.
What the outside world thinks is no inconsequential thing. The Obama administration has worked for years to discourage Uganda from taking these steps, as have others throughout Europe. The possibility of the country losing foreign aid remains quite real, though it didn’t stop parliament from approving the legislation anyway.
It is not yet clear whether Uganda President Yoweri Museveni will sign the legislation, and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi have raised procedural objections, arguing the parliament lacked a quorum at the time of the vote.
In the meantime, however, local activists fear violence and witch hunts.
“I am officially illegal,” Ugandan gay activist Frank Mugisha said after the vote.
American evangelical activists have encouraged Uganda to advance an anti-gay agenda, and some celebrated the bill’s passage last week.