'Kill the Gays' Bill Revived by Ugandan Government Would Impose Death Penalty on LGBTQ Community

The Ugandan government announced its plan to reintroduce a bill that would criminalize homosexuality with the death penalty.

The bill—colloquially known as "Kill the Gays" in Uganda—was nullified by the constitutional court in 2014 on a technicality, but the government said it plans to resurrect the bill within weeks.

"Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that," Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo told Reuters.

He went on to say that the current penal law is "limited," making it clear that anyone involved in "promotion and recruitment" will be criminalized.

"Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence," he said.

Lokodo also said the bill is supported by President Yoweri Museveni. It will be re-introduced in parliament in the coming weeks. He expects a vote to take place before the end of the year.

Uganda faced widespread international condemnation when the previous bill was signed off by Museveni in 2014.

Brian Wasswa, a Ugandan LGBTQ activist, recently died on October 5 after he was attacked at his home in Jinja, a city on Lake Victoria that is roughly two hours east of the country's capital of Kampala.

Pepe Julian Onziema from Sexual Minorities Uganda, an alliance of LGBTQ organisations, said its members were fearful.

"When the law was introduced last time, it whipped up homophobic sentiment and hate crimes," said Onziema.

Onziema said three gay men and one transgender woman had been killed in homophobic attacks in Uganda this year.

"Violence against us has escalated in recent months, countless community members have fled, and I fear it will only get worse," said Kasha Jacquelin Nabagesera, founder of the Uganda LGBT Community, an advocacy group.

"We urgently need support from the international community if we are to stand up against the witch hunt being launched against us."

NYC pride
Ugandan Activist Grand Marshall Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera attends the New York City Pride March. Mark Sagliocco/Getty

In 2014, the United States reduced aid to Uganda in response to the first "Kill the Gays" bill, imposing visa restrictions and cancelling military exercises. The World Bank, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands also suspended or redirected aid.

Last November, the anti-gay remarks by a senior official in Tanzania led to the nation's second biggest donor, Denmark, withholding $10 million in aid.

Lokodo said foreign opinion is a concern, but Uganda is prepared for any negative response.

The Trump administration earlier this year announced an initiative that urges countries to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations.

A State Department spokesperson on Thursday told the Washington Blade the "U.S. government firmly opposes criminalization of LGBTI individuals."

The spokesperson added the State Department "stands with Uganda's LGBTI community and Ugandans of all backgrounds and beliefs to defend the dignity of all citizens."