Anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda

Dying to be Free

Bénédicte Desrus

Uganda. 2010 – 2011

January marked the fourth anniversary of David Kato’s death.

In October 2010 a local newspaper ran an anti-gay diatribe, accompanied by photographs of Kato, a Ugandan gay rights advocate, and others, under the headline “Hang Them.” Three months later, Kato was dead, beaten to death with a hammer. His murder capped years of anti-gay activity in Uganda, spurred in large part by American evangelical Christians.

Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda – as it is in many sub-Saharan African countries – punishable by incarceration in prison for up to 14 years, when a member of Parliament introduced a bill in 2009 proposing that a new offense be created called “aggravated homosexuality,” which would be punishable as a capital offense. The proposal called for the death penalty for homosexuals who practiced gay sex with people under 18, with disabled people, when the accused party is HIV-positive, or for those previously convicted of homosexuality-related offences.

The draconian measure was not passed, and the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), a gay-friendly legal advocacy group in Uganda, continues to fight to gay rights in the country. HRAPF is seeking a ruling by the East African Court in Tanzania declaring anti-gay laws are unacceptable throughout East Africa.