****In 2011, a draconian bill in the Ugandan Parliament called for the death penalty in cases of what it called “aggravated homosexuality.” This category would have included situations in which one of the persons involved was a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a "serial offender." The bill provoked international outrage, including from prominent politicians and religious leaders, and was finally withdrawn.
According to news reports, a Ugandan Member of Parliament has introduced a revised bill that is expected to be acted on within a few days.
The revision? The punishment for those convicted for actions in “aggravated” cases would be life in prison instead of death.
Apparently nothing else has changed: Homosexuality is still illegal, failing to report a person one knows is gay is still illegal, renting a room or home to gays is still illegal.
Two years ago, Sojourners joined many others in signing a religious statement that said:
“Our Christian faith recognizes violence, harassment and unjust treatment of any human being as a betrayal of Jesus' commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. As followers of the teachings of Christ, we must express profound dismay at a bill currently before the Parliament in Uganda.”
That statement remains true in response to this new legislation.
Duane Shank is Senior Policy Advisor for Sojourners. Follow Duane on Twitter @DShankDC.
****CORRECTION (Feb. 9, 2012, 9:20 a.m.):
After our original post ran yesterday, we learned that there has been some confusion over the language of the current proposed language of the Ugandan anti-gay bill. In fact, the death penalty has not yet been dropped from the text of the bill.
The BBC corrected its similar post to ours, saying:
Bahati told the BBC's Joshua Mmali in the capital, Kampala, that for procedural reasons, the bill had been reintroduced in its original form but that the provision for capital punishment would be removed at committee stage. "We have moved away from the death penalty," he said.
And The Guardian(UK) had the following:
Bahati said the confusion over his bill's content resulted from ignorance about Ugandan parliamentary procedure. He said he had to resubmit the bill in its original form but amendments had been agreed last year and accepted.
These included a decision to drop references to the death penalty, originally mandated for "serial offenders" or people found guilty of a number of other homosexual acts. Bahati said life imprisonment terms contained in the first bill had also been dropped.
"We are reducing the prison sentences to two to seven years. Even the life imprisonment is not there," he told the Guardian by telephone from Uganda, adding that the bill would take into account what "other people say."
God's Politics regrets the error.