The Ugandan cabinet member who introduced a bill last year that would see gays executed in some circumstances says the bill will become law.
David Bahati, Uganda’s minister for ethics, told CNN he believes the bill will become law “soon.”
“We are very confident,” he said, “because this is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa, and also protect the future of our children.”
Bahati and his boss, Ugandan President Yoweri Kugata Museveni, are reportedly members of the American Christian group The Fellowship, also known as The Family.
Following an outcry from the international community late last year, the “anti-gay” bill appeared to have been shelved in parliament. But that isn’t the case, Bahati said. “Every single day of my life now I am still pushing that it passes.”
While gay sex is already illegal under Ugandan law, Bahati’s law would apply the death penalty to repeated acts of gay sex, and to anyone with HIV who engages in gay sex. It would also make it illegal for individuals not to report gay people to the police.
Passing the law would jeopardize Uganda’s relations with many developed countries, some of whom have threatened to pull aid to the country if the bill passes.
As Raw Story reported last year, Bahati has strong ties to the US religious right through a group called the African Student Leadership Program. Harper’s contributing editor Jeff Sharlet reported last year that President Museveni and Bahati are both members of The Family, a US Christian conservative group that campaigns against gay rights.
Kilian Melloy at the Edge describes the US Christian right’s influence on the anti-gay debate in Ugandan politics today:
There is some evidence that the bill was prompted in part by claims made by American anti-gay evangelicals who visited Uganda March of 2009, and presented what they called the “Seminar on Exposing the Homosexuals’ Agenda.” Their talks contained assorted claims about gays and the “dangers” that gays pose to society, reported the New York Times in a Jan. 3 article.
The conference was put together by the Ugandan group the Family Life Network, which purports to uphold “traditional family values.” The speakers included anti-gay writer and missionary Scott Lively–author of a book that purports to tell parents how to “gay-proof” their offspring–and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus international, an organization dedicated to the idea that gays can be “cured” through prayer and counseling.
Last week, a Ugandan newspaper published a list of what it called Uganda’s “100 top homos,” next to a headline that implored, “hang them.” CNN reports that at least four people on the partial list — only the first 15 of the promised 100 names were revealed — have come under attack since the list came out.
— With prior reporting by David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
The following video was broadcast on CNN International, Oct. 27, 2010.