By Zola Boyd, Courier Staff Writer
California's Prop. 8, which banned gay marriage, pales in comparison to a bill before Uganda's parliament. The bill goes beyond taking away gay rights, but proposes punishing some homosexuals with the death penalty just for being homosexual.
Under the proposed bill, life imprisonment is the minimum punishment for anyone convicted of having gay sex. Having gay sex with disabled people and those under the 18 could bring the death penalty, as is the case if the accused is HIV positive or a repeated "offender."
The bill is titled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009. In addition to banning gay sex, newly defined offenses include promoting homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuality and keeping a house "for purposes of homosexuality".
Those who witness homosexual activity are obliged to report to police within 24 hours or risk serving up to three years in jail. Human rights activists across the globe are afraid this will result in a full fledged witchhunt.
Those breaking the law abroad will be subject to extradition requests.
Human rights groups within Uganda and abroad have condemned the proposed bill, which is designed to strengthen outdated colonial-era laws that already make homosexuality a crime.
The Ugandan government is determined to pass the bill, even if it means withdrawing from international treaties and conventions like the UN's Universal Declaration of Human rights.