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Karen Ocamb

Uganda Update: Death Penalty Still in 'Kill the Gays' Bill

Filed By Karen Ocamb | November 29, 2012 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Family Research Council, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, Kill the Gays bill, Tony Perkins

Box Turtle Bulletin reports that the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament has suspended House sessions after debate over oil resources got unruly. Sessions are set to begin again on Monday, during which the "Kill the Gays" bill will again be a top priority.

On Wednesday, All Africa reported that Ugandan activists from AllOut.org that the death penalty is still part of the bill. "The only version of the bill that is public today still includes the death penalty provision for 'aggravated homosexuality'" said Kasha Jacqueline, Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG). "We know that the bill still refers to death, contrary to what the media is saying.....Ugandan lawmakers need to know the world is still watching now."

Andre Banks, Executive Director and Cofounder of All Out, said that more than 200,000 people from Africa and around the world have joined All Out's call for Uganda to drop the 'Kill the Gays' bill. All Out's petition is here.

The White House and State Department are monitoring the situation. Here's the response by State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland to a question about Uganda on Tuesday:

QUESTION: Do you have anything to add to what - the Uganda answer you gave yesterday? Has there been any more contact, do you know, between - since Ambassador - since Assistant Secretary Carson was there on this - the anti-homosexuality law?

MS. NULAND: Just a little bit more on Assistant Secretary Carson's conversation: He did talk to parliamentary leaders and to President Museveni very directly about our concerns, the concerns of the international community. Our understanding is that President Museveni certainly took onboard the fact that this could have a serious impact on the way Uganda is perceived, the way Uganda is supported in the international community. There are many hoops for this thing to go through, as you know. I think yesterday we said that the bill had passed the parliamentary committee. My understanding is that's incorrect. It hasn't even gotten to that stage. So we just need to continue to highlight the issues.

You can send a comment to the White House here.

Meanwhile, The Victory Fund's Denis Dison reports that a contingent of Ugandans cancelled their trip to the LGBT Leadership Conference. Dison wrote:

Victory just got an email from LGBT activists in Uganda who had scholarships to attend LGBT Leaders 2012: The 28th Intl LGBT Leadership Conference this weekend in Long Beach, CA. They are cancelling their trips to stay and help facilitate the evacuation of known activists from the country if/when the bill passes. According to one, they are more frightened of mob violence than they are of the police at this point.

In another development, the Human Rights Campaign is putting pressure on religious leaders to speak out against the bill, especially in light of support for the "Kill the Gays" bill from the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins.

The excellent HRC press release reads:

Tony Perkins, president of the so-called Family Research Council (FRC), Monday praised Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for remarks he made, urging his country to repent against "sexual immorality." The remarks come as the Ugandan parliament is debating a bill that would potentially impose the death penalty for same-sex behavior. Perkins, who has long-supported the legislation, praises it as "efforts to uphold moral conduct." Ironically, he and others in his organization recently tried to contest FRC's designation as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, claiming it is their "love" of homosexuals that motivates their work.

"The Good Book spells it out very clearly; 'Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not so to be,'" said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) VP for Communications Fred Sainz. "Tony Perkins can't claim that FRC isn't a hate group, while at the same time support a bill that many believe would bring the death penalty to gay Ugandans."

The legislation proposes jail terms for gay individuals, including life in prison in some circumstances. It is reported that a clause in the original bill calling for the death penalty may ultimately be dropped, although no evidence has been made available to substantiate those claims.

HRC has called on American faith leaders to reach out to their influential friends and colleagues in Uganda to urge them to condemn the bill and work to halt consideration. American Christian faith leaders have been active in Uganda for decades and have significant ties to Ugandan political leaders and faith leaders. Such influential American faith leaders, including Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, and voices from the Trinity Broadcasting Network, have a moral obligation to urge their Ugandan friends and allies to condemn the bill.

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