Uganda’s ruling party has drawn up new anti-gay legislation and could push it through parliament before the end of the year, rights activists said Saturday.
The move comes nearly a year after Ugandan MPs passed a bill that would have seen gays face up to life in prison, only to see the bill struck down by the constitutional court on a technicality.
According to a leaked copy of the new draft bill, MPs have instead focussed on outlawing the “promotion” of homosexuality — something that activists said made it far more repressive and wide-reaching.
“People don’t realise that the ‘promotion’ part of it will affect everybody,” prominent gay rights activist Frank Mugisha told AFP.
“If newspapers report about homosexuality it could be seen as promotion. My Twitter account could be seen as promotion. All human rights groups that include LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights defence in their activities could be accused of promotion.”
According to the draft, anyone convicted of promoting homosexuality would be liable to seven years in prison.
“We have confirmed that the draft comes from the cabinet. Their plan is to present it to parliament as soon as possible, before the end of the year,” Mugisha said.
“They have just twisted the language but it is the same thing. It’s actually worse because the ‘promotion’ part is harsher and it will punish the funding of LGBT and human rights groups,” he added.
The new draft also outlaws “funding for purposes of promoting unnatural sexual practices” and “exhibiting unnatural sexual practices”, and deems consent invalid as a defence.
Mugisha said the revival of such legislation will also result in violence against gays.
“We will try as hard as possible to kill it before it is taken to parliament, because if the law gets to parliament it will be passed as soon as possible. Elections are coming, and the politicians want to be seen as fighting against this evil homosexuality,” he said.
The government has not commented on the draft, although Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has been under pressure for several months from his own party to ensure that anti-gay legislation is passed.
Last month, however, Museveni — who signed off on the original bill — signalled he was having second thoughts. He argued the east African nation needed to consider the impact on trade and economic growth.
Critics said Museveni signed the previous law to win domestic support ahead of a presidential election scheduled for 2016, which will be his 30th year in power.
Although very popular domestically, the previous law was branded draconian and “abominable” by rights groups and condemned by several key allies and donors including the European Union and United States.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda under a 1950s penal code which remains in force and prescribes jail for those found guilty of homosexual acts.
Israel unearths remains of rare ancient mosque
Israeli archaeologists said Thursday they had unearthed the remains of a rare ancient rural mosque from the seventh and eighth centuries AD in the country's south.
The remains were discovered during preparations to construct a new building in the Bedouin town of Rahat, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.
It said the remains were of an open-air rectangular mosque with a mihrab, or prayer niche, facing Mecca.
The authority called it one of the earliest known rural mosques worldwide.
"From this period there are large known mosques in Jerusalem and in Mecca, but here we have evidence of an ancient house of prayer, which seems to have served the farmers who lived in the area," the authority said in a statement from the excavations' directors, Jon Seligman and Shahar Zur.
Meghan McCain feels victimized by Trump’s attacks on Omar: ‘You’re taking away my agency to criticize her’
Meghan McCain found a way to make herself the victim of President Donald Trump's racist screed against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
The president has been telling the Minnesota Democrat to return to her home country Somalia, which she fled as a refugee at 10, and accused her of supporting al-Qaeda as his supporters chanted "send her back" at a North Carolina rally.
"It was really dystopian," McCain said. "I was trying to go out to dinner and ignore politics. My family is in town, and came home and saw it on Twitter and then saw it on TV, and look."
After news of Trump's racist rant spoiled her evening out with relatives, McCain said she realized that his remarks had robbed her of something else.
‘He’s lost his mind’: Lindsey Graham’s latest defense of Trump’s racist attacks leaves Americans sick to their stomach
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was dragged over the coals on Thursday morning for defending Donald Trump's increasingly racist attacks on Somalia-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) saying it was "love it or leave it" 1968 politics having nothing to do with race.
Speaking with reporters the morning after Trump incited rallygoers to chant "send her back" after he launched an ugly attack on the Democratic lawmakers, Graham said the president couldn't be a racist because he would never encourage the repatriation of a Somali immigrant if they were wearing a MAGA hat.
Graham's glib defense outraged Twitter users who had already thought the conservative senator had hit rock bottom when it came to defending the president.