Uganda has announced plans for a bill that imposes the death penalty on homosexuals, stating that the legislation would curb an increase in "unnatural sex" in the East African nation.
The bill – colloquially known as "killing gays" in Uganda – was canceled five years ago for a technicality and the government has declared that it plans to resurrect it within a few weeks.
"Homosexuality is not natural for Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by homosexuals in schools, and especially among young people, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born that way", Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo told Reuters.
"Our current criminal law is limited. Criminalize only the act. We want to make it clear that anyone who is also involved in promotion and recruitment must be criminalized. Those who commit serious acts will be given the death sentence. "
African countries have some of the most prohibitive laws in the world that regulate homosexuality. Homosexual relationships are considered taboo and gay sex is a crime in much of the continent, with punishments ranging from prison to death.
At the beginning of this year, Brunei sparked international protests over plans to impose the death penalty for gay sex, backtracking only after intense criticism.
Now Uganda wants to follow the example.
Lokodo said that the bill, which is supported by President Yoweri Museveni, will be reintroduced into Parliament in the coming weeks and should be voted by the end of the year.
He was optimistic that he would pass with the necessary two-thirds of the members present – a shortage of numbers killed a similar bill in 2014 – as the government had pressured the legislators before its reintroduction, added Lokodo.
"We talked to parliamentarians and mobilized them in large numbers," said Lokodo. "Many are supportive."
The constitutional court of Uganda has canceled the law – previously known as the law "kill gays" because it includes the death penalty – on a technicality in 2014.
Even without it, Uganda is one of the most difficult countries in Africa to be a sexual minority. According to British colonial law, gay sex is punishable by life imprisonment and activists said the new bill risked triggering attacks.
"Restoring anti-gay legislation would invariably lead to a peak of discrimination and atrocities," said Zahra Mohamed of the charity foundation Stephen Lewis Foundation in Toronto.
PROTESTS AND PENALTIES ON THE ANTIGAY ACCOUNT
Attempts to limit LGBT + rights and criminalize gay sex in other countries have sparked protests and sanctions.
In May, Brunei was forced to extend a moratorium on the death penalty for gay sex after celebrities such as actor George Clooney condemned a law that allowed them to whip and stone to death.
Last November, anti-gay remarks by a senior Tanzanian official led the nation's second largest East African donor, Denmark, to withhold $ 10 million in aid.
Uganda has faced widespread international condemnation when the previous bill was signed by Museveni in 2014.
The United States has reduced aid, imposed visa restrictions and canceled military exercises. The World Bank, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands also suspended or redirected aid.
Lokodo has stated that Uganda is ready for any negative response.
"It's a concern," he said.
"But we're ready. We don't like blackmail. As much as we know that this irritates our supporters in terms of budget and governance, we cannot simply bend our heads and bow to people who want to impose a culture that is foreign to us ".
Pepe Julian Onziema of Ugual Minorities, an alliance of LGBT + organizations, said its members are afraid.
"When the law was introduced last time, it sparked homophobic sentiment and hate crimes," said Onziema.
"Hundreds of LGBT + people have been forced to leave the country as refugees and others will follow if this law is passed. It will also criminalize us for LGBT + rights, not to mention the support and protection of sexual minorities. "
Onziema said that three homosexuals and a transgender woman were killed in homophobic attacks in Uganda this year – last last week when a homosexual was killed to death.