Uganda's ignominious anti-gay bill is back in play. After being deservedly relegated to legislative limbo last year, the bill, which would expand the definition of what constitutes a homosexual "crime" in the country's statute books, is once again under consideration in the Ugandan parliament. In its original form, the anti-homosexuality bill would have allowed for the death penalty against serial offenders. Now, a legislative committee has apparently recommended that the bill be brought before the full parliament for debate, but with the death penalty replaced with life imprisonment. Obviously, that's still ludicrous punishment for something that shouldn't be considered a crime at all.
Uganda already outlaws homosexual activity, as do 30 other African countries on a continent that is notoriously homophobic. People are occasionally arrested but rarely convicted under the homosexual activity law, according to Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch. But the proposed law would dramatically expand what the government considers a crime. It would, for instance, "prohibit the licensing of organizations which promote homosexuality," which could be interpreted to include groups that promote the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community. Touching someone with the "intention" of gay sexual activity would be an offense. It would even "impose a duty on the community to report suspected cases of homosexuality."