The Ugandan government is currently debating a new law against homosexuality. Regular homosexuality is punishable by seven years in prison. Being HIV positive and having gay sex – even with a condom – would be punishable by death. I don’t think it is culturally insensitive to say that this is a very bad law.
And that’s not all. The law will also criminalize anyone “who acts as an accomplice or attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality”, and a person in authority who “aids, abets, councils or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality”.
Anti-gay sentiment has been building in Uganda for a long time. Homosexuality is seen as against Ugandan traditions – a dirty practice brought to the country by outsiders. It has been a polarizing issue among those who work on HIV issues, and the subject of many editorials in the Ugandan media and blogosphere. It’s not surprising that things have gotten to this point, but it is depressing.
There is also some ugly irony at work here. Homosexuality is not an outside influence on Uganda, but homophobia actually is. Several American conservative Christian leaders visited Uganda in March to hold a seminar on exposing the homosexual agenda. They’re backing away from this new legislation, bt it’s hard to avoid the idea that they helped to bring it about.