Jim Burroway has a long and very detailed article about the Ugandan “kill the gays” bill, which could be voted on this week. He explains why the claim being repeated by so many Christian right types in this country that the bill no longer contains the death penalty is false:
On a final note, it’s important to address the persistent false reports in the media that the death penalty has been removed from the bill. Those false reports have been reported as though they were fact since December, 2009. Part of the confusion has stemmed from the Ugandan governments’ pronouncements over the years that the bill has been “rejected”. In April 2010, that so-called “rejection” was followed by a government recommendation that the bill’s provisions be passed under the radar in other, less controversial bills. Additional reports of the government “shelving” the bill emerged in March 2011, only to be followed again a few weeks later with suggestions that the bill becarved up and passed unnoticed in other bills.
Finally in May of 2011, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, which had been charged with the task of coming up with recommendations for the bill, issued their final report. They recommended removing some clauses of the bill, while also recommending the addition of a new clause criminalizing the conduct of same-sex marriages. As for the death penalty provision, the committee implied that the death penalty was unsatisfactory because it “does not make the offender feel the punishment for his actions.”
Sounds like they’re ready to get rid of it, right? Well here was their recommendation for Clause 3: (PDF: 57KB/6 pages.)1. Clause 3 (2) is amended by substituting for the words “…suffer death’’ with words “…the penalty provided for aggravated defilement under Section 129 of the Penal Code Act”.
To harmonise the provision with the penalty under the Penal Code Act
Well guess what. Section 129 of the Penal Code Act reads that anyone who “commits a felony called aggravated defilement [i.e. child sexual abuse] and is, on conviction by the High Court, liable to suffer death.” Which means that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended that the death penalty be retained through stealth. Bahati then went on to claim that the death penalty was removed even though it was still a part of the bill.
And he also points out that there are many ancillary offenses covered by the bill that make it even worse than previously thought:
There are a ton of “related offenses” in the proposed bill, including renting a room to a gay person, refusing to report a gay person to police, using the internet to advocate for the rights of gay people, donating to a pro-gay cause — and all of these offenses may be committed by straight people. A prior conviction on one of those clauses and then “touching” someone “with a part of a body” and “through anything” without anything even close to sex taking place (again, see clauses 1 and 2), and you’re headed to the gallows under this bill. Rob Tisinai illustrated how this can happen in this video from 2010.
And here’s that video: