Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Uganda gays feel threatened by bill

January 28, 2010

ugandaBeing gay or lesbian in Uganda is illegal and those who are risk being locked away for up to 14 years. Now, a new parliamentary bill wants gay people to face even stiffer penalties and is proposing life imprisonment and even death sentences in some cases.

Pepe Julia Onziema and her partner, who asked that her identity be hidden, spend most of their time together — indoors. They are a lesbian couple living in Uganda where homosexuality is against the law. Pepe is also a gay rights activist in Kampala and is openly vocal about her sexuality and because of that she is often victim to discrimination and harassment.

“Myself I am at risk,” Onziema told Reuters Africa Journal “I can’t move on the streets as I used to, I can’t go to a shop … I have been picked off the streets, detained for sometime, ridiculed, intimidated, some money taken away from my wallet…”

David Bahati, an MP for Uganda’s ruling party, proposed the bill. “Homosexuality has become a huge issue in this country we know that it is not our values, it” not Ugandan, it’s a threat to our traditional family and the children of Uganda…”

The bill has the support of many Ugandans. Anti gay protests have been used to support the bill. The reaction from the west and human rights activists has been the opposite. Donors — who fund about a third of Uganda’s budget, have been piling on the pressure to get leaders to shelve the bill.

¬†Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, said recently: “When I was at the Commonwealth conference, the Prime Minister of Canada came to see me and what was he talking about? Gays, Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to see me and what was he talking about? Gays, when I go to New York when I was coming back, Assistant Secretary Carson rang me, what was he ringing to talk about? Somalia and gays.”

The bill also targets straight Ugandans who will face up to 7 years in prison for withholding information about homosexuals.

 According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, the African continent is still largely against homosexuality. It is illegal in 36 countries.

South Africa is seen as the most tolerant. In 2006, it became the first African country to legalize gay civil unions. The constitution protects gays from discrimination and same-sex couples are even allowed to adopt children.

In Malawi, one gay couple has grabbed international attention lately. Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were arrested after they married in a traditional ceremony in December last year. Homosexuality is banned here and carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

Uganda’s anti-gay bill goes into its second reading in February. Lawmakers may soften the punishment but they maintain that homosexuality is a crime. Lesbians and gays across the continent now face a fight to practice their sexuality freely.

Comments

I certainly agree with this. Gay and lesbian culture should be fought against. It is against nature, against logic and against all religions. If one day all people were gays and lesbians, the humanity will just disappear. We are already being punished by so many uncured and chronical diseases as a result of trying to deviate the normal course of life. Where are humans going?

Posted by Amarket | Report as abusive
 

Asksimba.com is looking for columnists to write on issues relating to Africa or other topic’s, You don’t need to be a journalist, anyone is welcome, register at http://asksimba.com/article/

Posted by asksimba | Report as abusive
 

For more in-depth news about Africa, you may want to visit Newstime Africa http://www.newstimeafrica.com – We cover the whole of Africa. You will get our views on this topic and much more.

Posted by Newstime | Report as abusive
 

It’s sad that “contributing countries” have the power to sway what the people of Uganda have decided is right and just. Uganda’s lawmakers will likely buckle under pressure from other societies, rather than pass laws that reflect what their society deems necessary. In other words, the dollar (or the shilling) rules. Uganda cannot vote its conscience when it knows that much-needed funds will be withdrawn as a consequence. So, Uganda must sacrifice the funding that their country so badly needs…or agree to fall in line with the laws of other lands. That’s a real shame.

Posted by UgandaWithLove | Report as abusive
 

Everyone has the right to practice and explore their own sexuality. The realm of sexual orientation falls within a private sphere which the government, no matter how well-meaning it thinks its actions are, is not supposed to intrude into.

Posted by Elliven | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •