Uganda has tabled legislation that would level capital punishment on anyone convicted of what it calls “aggravated homosexuality.” The definition of the crime covers homosexual acts with children under 18 or disabled people, and what is vaguely referred to as “serial offender” homosexuality. The bill—which states that homosexuality is “preventable, especially among young people who are most vulnerable to recruitment”—would punish offenders with at least five years in prison, plus fines of 100 million Ugandan shillings ($54,500), for anyone who “attempts to legitimize or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices.” A similar sentence awaits Ugandans convicted of failing to report homosexual offences within 24 hours; businesses and NGOs, either foreign or domestic, are also liable. The anti-homosexuality bill is awaiting a signature from President Yoweri Museveni before becoming law.
Uganda’s anti-gay crusade has ramifications in North America as well, according to gay rights activists in the U.S. They note Museveni’s connection to American fundamentalist Christians; the conservative Christian group known as the Family, which counts many U.S. politicians among its members, including Sen. Rick Santorum, calls Museveni their “key man” in Africa. A conference in March in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, was attended by outspoken American anti-gay activist Scott Lively, who writes about “the homosexual roots of the Nazi regime” in his book, The Pink Triangle: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party. Caleb Lee Brundidge, described as a “sexual reorientation coach,” also attended the conference.
The anti-homosexuality bill refers to same-sex attraction as a “mental disorder,” the sufferers of which “can and have changed to a heterosexual orientation.” Prior to the introduction of this bill, homosexuality did not even appear in the country’s penal code.