Campaigners are calling on Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni not to sign the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, following today’s vote by the Uganda Parliament.
The bill increases the penalty for other acts – including mere sexual touching – from seven years to life imprisonment.
Promoting homosexuality and aiding and abetting others to commit same-sex acts will be punishable by five to seven years in jail.
A person in authority – gay or heterosexual – who fails to report violators to the police within 24 hours will be sentenced to three years behind bars.
Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi is said to have opposed the parliamentary vote – and attention is now on President Yoweri Museveni to see if he will sign the bill into law.
US President Barack Obama called it “odious” in 2010, while some donors have suggested that they could cut aid to Uganda if the bill is signed into law.
Campaigners believe the issue of foreign aid could be weighing on President Museveni’s mind, but they also recognise the president supports the spirit of the bill.
It is also possible for parliamentary supporters of the bill to bypass the need for presidential approval if a further vote is tabled.
The London based African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group said it was a “sad day” for Uganda’s LGBT community.
“It is a preposterous decision of the Ugandan Parliament to pass this bill”, a spokesperson from the group told PinkNews.co.uk. “I hope President Museveni doesn’t sign the bill into law. The bill means that gay people in Uganda are going to be at even greater risk of persecution both physically and emotionally.
“Their lives are going to be affected in one way or the other. Uganda is following other African countries such as Nigeria that have recently passed anti-gay legislation due to pressure from religious leaders, from members of parliament and ordinary citizens.
“It is a sad day for the LGBTI community in Uganda.”
She told PinkNews.co.uk: “This really is dreadful news that has come from Uganda today, especially as it comes just days after the death of Nelson Mandela, who stood up for the rights of all including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”
The bill was first introduced in 2009 by Ugandan MP David Bahati. It originally proposed the death penalty for some offences, such as if a minor was involved or if the accused was HIV positive, but this has been dropped.
Mr Bahati told AFP on Friday that he was glad “Parliament has voted against evil”.