This blog’s reports about Uganda on June 18:
- Anti-gay Uganda today (1): Activist due in court
- Anti-gay Uganda today (2): Warning about HIV bill
- Anti-gay Uganda today (3): A goof that won’t go away
- Anti-gay Uganda today (4): Excluding gays from HIV care
As Uganda continues its campaign against the local LGBTI community, many people continue to misunderstand one key aspect of the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act:
Ugandan people don’t have to report gays to police
In an earlier version of the bill that became Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, people would have been required to report suspected homosexuals to police. That would have required parents to turn in gay children, teachers to turn in gay students, and even priests to turn in gay members of their congregations.
Like the death penalty, that provision was dropped from the bill before it was passed, but it lives on in popular consciousness. The latest example came in this week’s PBS NewsHour report “Uganda gays face life in prison under law.” That report quoted a Ugandan refugee who stated:
“In the bill it says clearly if you know someone or suspect someone that is gay, you have to go and report him to the officers. So everyone is unsafe.”
That is false.
Yet the belief remains popular. The same claim was included in the Wikipedia article about the Anti-Homosexuality Law, at least as of the June 18 publication date of this blog post:
“Not reporting gay people is also made a crime punishable with imprisonment.”
The Wikipedia article cited as its source an incorrect BBC article from when the bill had just been passed in December 2013. The article incorrectly stated:
“The anti-homosexuality bill also makes it a crime punishable by a prison sentence not to report gay people.”
The full text of the Anti-Homosexuality Act does not contain any requirement for reporting homosexuals.
It contains much that is objectionable, however:
- Life imprisonment for same-sex intimacy involving penetration — the same punishment currently provided under existing Ugandan law.
- Life imprisonment for anyone who “touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
- Forced medical examinations for anyone accused of being HIV-positive and of committing homosexual acts, which is termed “aggravated homosexuality,” also punishable by life imprisonment.
- Seven years in prison for attempts at committing “the offense of homosexuality.”
- Life imprisonment for HIV-positive people who attempt to commit “the offense of homosexuality.”
- Seven years in prison for anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality.” LGBT rights activists fear that this provision and the next one will be used against them.
- Life imprisonment for same-sex marriage. (The Ugandan constitution already prohibits same-sex marriage.)
- Up to seven years in prison for conducting a same-sex wedding ceremony.
- Imprisonment for seven years for the “director or proprietor or promoter” of a company or association that is convicted of “promoting homosexuality.” In addition, the organization’s certificate of registration would be canceled.
The law also provides for five to seven years in prison for:
- Anyone who “attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices.”
- Publishing “pornographic materials for purposes of promoting homosexuality.”
- Anyone who “funds or sponsors homosexuality or other related activities.”
- Anyone who “offers premises and other related fixed or movable assets for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality.” Landlords who rent to LGBT rights groups are liable to imprisonment too.
- Anyone who “uses electronic devices which include internet, films, mobile phones for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality.”