Despite repeated internet petitions to curb the passing of the law, Uganada has been quietly working on “anti-gay” legislation that would make life imprisonment the maximum penalty for people engaging in acts of homosexuality throughout the past few years. The bill was finally approved by Ugandan legislators on Friday.
Homosexuality has long been illegal in Uganda, but this new bill represents a stricter approach to criminally punishing the sexual preference. Initially, the bill included a provision that would punish homosexuality by death but, due to criticisms for the harshness of that penalty, it was taken out from the recent revision that made its way through the country’s legislative body.
According to The Independent, the passing of the bill strikes a blow to Ugandan homosexuals, who believed they had been making strides to improve the rampant homophobia throughout the country. Uganda had its first gay rights parade in 2012, and prominent Ugandan gay activists such as Pepe Julian Onziema are outspoken against the penalties imposed on their lifestyles.
Still, however, homophobia is widespread throughout the country. According to a 2007 poll, 96 percent of Ugandan residents viewed homophobia as unacceptable. That statistic dropped to 89 percent in a 2010 poll, but that is still a strikingly high number compared to the rest of the world.
The Ugandan bill was first penned in 2009, and it has received criticisms from several world leaders, including President Obama, since its inception.