I broke out in a bout of hysterical laughter when I read the following excerpt from this press release from Human Rights Watch..
"This new draft bill includes a provision that could lead to the imprisonment for up to three years of anyone, including heterosexual people, who fails to report within 24 hours the identities of everyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or who supports human rights for people who are."
This outbreak of frenzied homophobia is the epitome of the hypocrisy that pervades political life in Africa. At a time when expensive legislative time should be judiciously expended on the issues that really matter to the people of the country; when Ugandan lawmakers and the Ugandan government should be concerned about the welfare of vulnerable Ugandans, (including those same-gender loving men and women in their society, who are susceptible to wanton physical abuse and discrimination); when the Ugandan authorities should be looking to protect those of the country's citizens whose welfare is their responsibility; when the challenges that face our continent in this 21st Century are enormous; what we hear of instead is an Anti-Homosexuality Bill being introduced to Parliament. This bill is deemed necessary according to the MP David Bahati who introduced it. He claims that the purpose of the bill is to protect children and the "traditional family".
Now lets face it, the vast majority of the incidents of child rape in Uganda, as everywhere else, are not perpetrated by homosexuals. (In Uganda, child rape is referred to as 'defilement'). In fact, more often than not, the child victim has fallen prey to a predatory heterosexual rapist. It is this heterosexual rapist who children need protection from. And as far as I am aware, the laws that are currently in force in Uganda already make it an offence to engage in sexual relations with a minor.
Mr Bahati goes on to demand the death penalty for what he calls "aggravated homosexuality". I read this and I wondered if the said Mr Bahati has ever had the opportunity to sit inside a classroom in his life, given that unless he is starkly illiterate, he ought to know that there are no law books in any Common Law jurisdiction, (including Uganda), that refer to an offence known as 'homosexuality'. Homosexuality cannot be an offence! You cannot make it an offence and punish a person for having feelings of sexual and emotional attraction towards others of the same gender. You cannot prove 'homosexuality' in a court of law to the standard of proof that is required in a criminal court.
What the law describes as an offence, is the act of "carnal knowledge against the order of nature", i.e., the physical act of sexual penetration by one person of another person of the same gender. Now, unless you can prove beyond reasonable doubt that penetration has occurred, you do not have a case. Most of the homosexual sex that happens in this world is consensual, and not all of it is penetrative. Therefore, unless homosexual rape has occurred, a successful prosecution under the existing laws is virtually impossible. The operative word here is "rape", and a rapist should always be punished for his crime, be it homosexual or heterosexual rape. Similarly, a convicted paedophile must always be severely punished, and where he continues to pose a threat to children, he must be removed from society altogether, until such a time as when that risk no longer exists..But most paedophiles are not homosexuals. Homosexuals are only a tiny minority of the overall population and to ascribe to them such a disproportionate portion of the burden of guilt for child sex offences in Uganda is not only wrong, it is also manifestly prejudicial and irrational.
My point here is that you cannot prosecute for 'homosexuality'! There is no such offence in existence. There cannot therefore be the aggravated form of a non-existent offence! Section 140 of the Penal Code Act of Uganda already outlaws homosexual acts. The proper thing for lawmakers to do is to introduce an Amendment to the existing legislation, which in any event, I do not even see the need for, seeing as the existing law in Uganda is already one of the more draconian anti-sodomy laws in existence anywhere in the world. On the whole, this bill is suggestive of the fact that Ugandan lawmakers are allowing their homophobic prejudice to run away with them. Surely, there are some intelligent people in the Uganda Parliament who know enough to be tolerant and to be moderate in their views. I am relying on their good sense to kill this ridiculous bill...