Magazine article New African
Anti-Gay Bill on Course; David Bahati, the Author of Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill Aiming to Criminalise Homosexuality in the Country, Says the Bill Is Still on Course despite a Thunderous International Outcry against It. Agnes Asiimwe Reports from Kampala
Uganda's new controversial anti-gay bill proposes a seven-year jail term for homosexuals and a death penalty for those convicted of aggravated homosexuality, which is defined as sex with a minor or a disabled person where the offender is HIV-positive.
The author of the bill, David Bahati, MP fot Ndorwa West constituency, who has since October 2009 been on the receiving end of increasing outrage by gay and human rights activists worldwide, and even claims to be getting death threats, remains defiant. His bill, he says, is meant to protect "the traditional African hetero-sexual family".
World leaders, including President Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the UK, have spoken out against the proposed legislation. Sweden and Canada have threatened to cut aid to Uganda if the bill is passed. America has also said Uganda's beneficiary status under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) will be revoked if the bill goes ahead.
But Martin Sempa, an outspoken anti-gay pastor in Uganda, has sneered at the threats: "If our selling of our cotton to America means that we get sodomy in exchange, then we don't need that business."
Ugandan religious leaders from the Christian, Pentecostal and Muslim faiths are fully behind the bill and have called on Western leaders to "back off". The pastors and Muslim clerics have called on their congregations to vote out any parliamentarian who does not support the bill. They have in the past organised several anti-gay demonstrations in Kampala. "Our donor partners have put a lot of pressure on our government, disrespectfully interfering in our democratic process of law-making," said Bahati. President Yoweri Museveni, himself not so friendly to homosexuality, has, in a surprising change of heart, asked the MPs behind the bill to "go slow".
"This is a foreign policy issue and we have to discuss it in a manner that does not compromise our principles but also takes care of our foreign policy interests," Museveni told a gathering of the National Executive Committee of his ruling NRM party, as MPs shouted: "No, no, no! …