Awful "Kill the Gays" Bill Is Shelved for Now -- But That Doesn't Mean It's Dead
Before delving into the less positive aspects of this story, let's take a moment to celebrate that the "Kill the Gays" bill is not law in Uganda, at least for now. As the AP reports, the Ugandan parliament adjourned today without passing the legislation:
Speaker of Parliament Edward Ssekandi Kiwanuk said there is no time to take up the bill this session, which ends Wednesday, leaving the bill's future uncertain. Kiwanuk adjourned the parliament Friday and set no date for the body to return....
Avaaz, an Internet group that champions action on issues like poverty and climate change, called it a "victory for all Ugandans and people across the world who value human rights" that parliament did not take action Friday.
There had been widespread concern that the bill -- which would make the "crime" of homosexuality punishable by up to 7 years in prison or, in some cases, death -- would pass this week. According to the AP, "Kakoba Onyango, a member of parliament, said the anti-gay bill has taken so long to be acted on because President Yoweri Museveni did not back it and because of the criticism of human rights groups." Indeed, activists were out in full force this week; for instance, a petition launched by global gay rights group All Out to put pressure on President Museveni garnered some 450,000 signatures this week. Earlier in the week, a group of female Ugandan legislators staged a walkout from parliament in opposition of the bill.
Unfortunately, the Kill the Gays bill is far from dead.
David Bahati, who authored the bill, has said that if the anti-gay bill was not voted on this session, he would try to move the legislation forward next session.
Helen Kawesa, spokeswoman for parliament, said the anti-gay bill could come back up for debate in the next parliament but that it would likely take time to get back to the floor.
So there's still much work to do. All eyes on Uganda.