- (Photo: Reuters/James Akena)
A long disputed and controversial bill further criminalizing homosexual acts in Uganda is possibly slated to become a law by the end of 2012, according to the speaker of the country's parliament, who argues that the majority of Ugandans support the legislation.
Activists encouraging the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" agree that public support of the legislation will speed its process in becoming a law.
"I can tell you it has 99 percent chance. It will pass. No question about it," James Nsaba Buturo, the country's former ethics minister and leader of the Coalition for Advancement of Moral Values, which supports the bill, told Voice of America earlier this week.
"If there was any leader in this country who sympathizes with homosexuality, he will not say it in public. Because he knows that Ugandans, by and large, do not support that way of life," Buturo added.
The coalition, which officially launches next week, reportedly met with one-third of the Ugandan parliament on Friday, Nov. 9 to discuss the passing of the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill", which was originally created in 2009.
Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of Uganda's parliament, told The Associated Press on Monday that the bill may become law by the end of the year because the people are "demanding it."
"Who are we not to do what they have told us? These people should not be begging us," Kadaga told the AP of those supporting the bill.
According to a report on Uganda's government-sponsored parliament website, the purpose of the bill is "to establish a comprehensive legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between people of the same sex."
As BBC News reports, the bill proposes strong jail terms for those who participate in homosexual acts, including life sentences in some cases.
Additionally, it prohibits the promotion of homosexuality, including funding pro-homosexual organizations.
The bill also includes a clause which provides the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," which is "defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a 'serial offender,'" according to BBC News.
Member of Parliament David Bahati, who initially proposed the bill, has reportedly said that the death penalty clause of the bill would be removed before it becomes finalized.
The bill has been widely criticized by the international community, which argues that it is a violation of human rights to criminalize homosexuality.
In July 2012, 46 American Christian leaders issued an open letter to the people of Uganda, primarily Christians, urging them to oppose the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill", arguing that its passing into law would result in "increased bigotry and hatred."
"[T]he bill in Uganda would forcefully push lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people further into the margins, and it would criminalize anyone, including clergy, who speak up and provide support for their LGBT brothers and sisters rather than reporting them to law enforcement. Persecution of this kind has no place in any community guided by the commandment to love one's neighbor," the religious leaders stated in the letter.
"Regardless of the diverse theological views of our religious traditions regarding the morality of homosexuality, the criminalization of homosexuality, along with the violence and discrimination against LGBT people that inevitably follows, is incompatible with the teachings of our faith," they added.
Additionally, some international organizations have vowed to cut off funding to Uganda should the bill become law, and U.S. President Barack Obama has openly condemned the legislation.
Several African countries, including Libya and South Sudan, currently criminalize homosexuality.
Currently, consensual, same-sex intercourse between two adults is illegal in 76 countries.