News / Africa

Uganda Moves Forward on Anti-Gay Bill

People protest against Uganda's proposed anti-homosexuality bill in New York on Nov 19, 2009.
People protest against Uganda's proposed anti-homosexuality bill in New York on Nov 19, 2009.
Andrew Green
Uganda’s speaker of parliament has promised a controversial anti-homosexuality bill will pass by the end of the year. A new coalition led by the former state minister for ethics says the country is prepared to deal with any international fallout.

The Coalition for Advancement of Moral Values does not officially launch until next week. But last Friday, the group of religious and civil society leaders organized a meeting with more than one-third of Uganda’s members of parliament. There they pushed for the reintroduction of a bill that would broaden rationalization of homosexuality.

Before the meeting ended, Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of parliament, promised the bill would pass before the end of the year. James Nsaba Buturo, the former ethics minister and a coalition leader, says the measure’s widespread popularity will speed its approval.

“I can tell you it has 99 percent chance. It will pass. No question about it," Buturo said. "If there was any leader in this country who sympathizes with homosexuality, he will not say it in public. Because he knows that Ugandans, by and large, do not support that way of life.”

The bill was originally introduced in 2009. The initial version included the death penalty for some actions, like engaging in sexual activity with people under 18. Buturo says the death penalty language has now been stripped from the legislation and replaced with shorter prison sentences.

But the proposal has still drawn widespread international criticism. U.S. President Barack Obama calls it “odious” and some international donors threaten to cut off aid if the bill is signed into law.

Buturo says outsiders who criticize the bill are engaging in a “culture war” with Uganda. He says the bill’s re-introduction after being shelved by the last parliament shows his country will not be deterred by threats of aid cuts.

“We are saying to the world and to those who are supporting this way of life of theirs, ‘Come what may.’ They have no right whatsoever to impose their preference on this nation," he insists.

Clare Byarugaba, the co-coordinator of the Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law says gay rights activists are pessimistic.

“The time that we have from now until Christmas, is a very short time for a bill to be tabled and then debated and then passed," Byarugaba says. "But, of course, there’s fear that it can actually happen.”

Because the bill’s proponents are framing the debate as a culture war between Ugandan and Western cultures, Byarugaba says her coalition is looking to activate local human rights groups to speak out in opposition.

“We call upon the international community not to speak out in the media about these issues. Whatever actions that are going to be done, should be done diplomatically, with the relevant stakeholders of this country," she says. "And, let the Ugandan community and the Ugandan human rights organizations and allies to do the groundwork.”

They are also preparing to raise constitutional challenges to the bill, if it does pass.

Parliament’s Legal and Parliament Affairs Committee is considering the bill before it can be tabled in front of the whole house.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Maria from: Uganda
December 07, 2012 7:44 AM
For all the gay activists in America and the entire world your criticizing of the bill is just making it porpular in my country where it was never going to be passed in the first place it had been dismissed but this business of you people showing off how you are helping us greatly with your aid which in actual sense is enjoyed by top government officials is making Ugandans angry because you think we can't survive without your help and most importantly it is being viewed in my country as imposing western culture on our African culture and because of this that bill may pass just to show you people that we can never be intimidated by your funny threats. So you may think your helping but actually your not if you had ignored this whole thing deep down i know it would never have coz it was harsh in the first place but now it has been revised and the death penalty removed and i do believe the speaker is also in support because the Canadian prime minister tried to threaten her. But now it's too late and there is nothing that can be done. FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY.

by: Nicole H from: usa
November 17, 2012 8:34 AM
Stop foreign aid to this country until they show some objective measures of improvement in human rights. The ignorance and hate will abruptly stop when the foreign money stops.
The people who quote Leviticus to support this bigoted and hateful barabric view are absolutely ignorant with a 3rd grade knowledge of basic theology. Funny how they ignore the other laws about stoning a disobedient child or someone who works on the Sabbath. Or planting two different crops in the same field as an abomination just as eating shrimp or
Rather than trying to understand the Bible as a book written in a patriarchal culture with minimal scientific understanding of the world, they choose to select passages to interpret literally to affirm their prejudice. It is anything but Christ like.
In Response

by: Maria from: Uganda
December 07, 2012 7:29 AM
and you think cutting off foreign aid is going to achieve what exactly you people forget we are mainly an agricultural country so people can not really starve because they actually grow their own food plus in case you did not know the money that is sent as aid is used by top government officials to satisfy their own selfish needs so basically that money has not been put proper use anyway so nothing will change I pray with all my heart that bill is passed just to show all of you people that we can actually survive without your so called help.

by: John from: California
November 16, 2012 5:12 PM
I will support economic sanctions. If Uganda wants to do without our values, they can also do without our money, medicines, products...we do not support Barbarians

by: ljrich from: US
November 16, 2012 3:19 PM
Africa will forever be considered a 3rd world country if it cannot move past its violent history.

by: sweetza Richard from: Kampala
November 16, 2012 11:03 AM
Uganda is a funny country with brain-washed 'believers in the Bible' How can we again be slaves to something else? Are we not slaves of religion? Why should u kill innocent people in the name of religion?
In Response

by: Marty from: Sulphur, Oklahoma
November 16, 2012 7:55 PM
The country of Uganda probably based their law on Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13, and GOD will bless them for it because they stand for Biblical truth.

by: Marty Butler from: Sulphur, OK
November 14, 2012 12:13 PM
GOD will richly bless Uganda for their Biblical stance on this abominable sin.
In Response

by: Marty from: Sulphur, Oklahoma
November 16, 2012 7:50 PM
You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable. Leviticus 18:22 HCSB
If a man sleeps with a man as with a woman, they have both committed a detestable thing. They must be put to death; their blood is on their own hands. Leviticus 20:13 That is Uganda's law is based out of, the Roman empire violated this Bibliical principles, and they fell.
In Response

by: John D'Ambra from: Butler, NJ
November 16, 2012 4:07 PM
And may that GOD punish "your kind" who put Hate/Violence mongering Bigotry before Human Equality...
In Response

by: leslie
November 16, 2012 10:12 AM
if this passes i want to invade them, let us do what we do best.
In Response

by: jack
November 15, 2012 6:28 AM
We reserve the right to assemble and protest en masse in front of their embassies/consulates worldwide.
In Response

by: jomutenga from: uganda
November 15, 2012 1:53 AM
It appears many forget the first commandments of being fruitful and multiplying. So when it was not good for man to be alone, was another man was created!!!!
In Response

by: Mike from: Japan
November 14, 2012 8:10 PM
Absolutely. Because I believe the commandment was "imprison and spread hatred of your neighbors" right?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs