[JURIST] The Ugandan Parliament [official website] will pass a highly controversial anti-gay bill by the end of 2012, the parliament’s speaker said on Monday. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told the Associated Press [report] that the bill reflects the will of a majority of the Ugandan people. Religious figures in Uganda appealed to the parliament to pass the bill prior to Christmas as holiday gift, while protesters, including school children, paraded around Kadaga carrying placards that read “Homosexuality is an abomination.” Kadaga said the bill will be considered in the next two weeks. Although homosexuality is already criminalized in Uganda, the bill envisages much more stringent punishments for homosexual acts. The bill includes life imprisonment for homosexual offenses [BBC report] and subjects bystanders who fail to report homosexual acts to criminal liability.
The original text of Uganda’s bill also included the death penalty for some offenses related to homosexual acts. In February of this year Ugandan MP David Bahati announced that clauses mandating the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” would be dropped [JURIST report] from the controversial bill. In November of last year the Ugandan High Court sentenced a man to 30 years in prison [JURIST report] for beating to death prominent gay rights activist David Kato. In January 2011 the Ugandan High Court issued a permanent injunction [JURIST report] and awarded damages to three plaintiffs who were among 100 people alleged to be homosexuals by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper, The Rolling Stone. In January 2010 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay criticized the original anti-gay legislation [JURIST report], saying that it could harm Uganda’s reputation internationally. In February 2010, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly denounced the proposed legislation [JURIST report].