The situation for GLBT people in two East African nations may be stabilising with a Ugandan parliamentary committee criticising a proposed death penalty law, and Kenya pledging to decriminalise homosexuality.
A committee of Ugandan cabinet ministers found the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 to be full of “technical defects in form and content”. Nearly all clauses in the bill were redundant, unworkable in practice or replicated existing laws, the committee found.
Only a clause which punishes the so-called promotion of homosexuality with between five and seven years was singled out as having merit. The Ugandan Government believes there is an international conspiracy to lure heterosexual Ugandans into homosexuality.
“This appears to be the core of the [bill] and should be upheld due to the fact that there was massive recruitment to entice people into homosexuality going on, especially among the youth,” the report said.
The review called for the bill, which would have seen repeat homosexual offenders and sexually active HIV positive gay men executed, to be “harmonised with the existing penalties in the existing laws”.
Homosexuals can already be jailed for life in Uganda for consensual sex.
Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, has distanced himself from the bill following criticism by world leaders. Australia has expressed its concerns about the law in the UN and through diplomatic channels.
Meanwhile, a delegation on behalf of the Kenyan Government has pledged to decriminalise homosexuality during a United Nations review in Geneva of the country’s human rights situation.
Homosexuals can currently be jailed for between five to 14 years for consensual sexual activity in Kenya, while people suspected of being gay have been targeted with death threats and attacked by mobs in the streets.
Kenyan representatives made the pledge in response to criticism during the Eighth Session of the Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights.
Kenya, which is finalising a new constitution, also promised to strengthen its protection of women’s rights and end child labour and child marriages.
Kenyan delegates said sexual minorities would be protected from discrimination.
However, both the old and the new constitutions outlaw legal recognition of same-sex relationships.