A Member of Parliament in Uganda has tabled a bill for new laws that could see gays and gay-sympathizers in the East African country imprisoned for life and even executed.

Bahati David’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 received its first reading in Parliament yesterday.

Although homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, the new bill toughens existing laws and widens the scope of homosexual offenses. As justification, the bill contains a litany of supposed negative consequences of homosexuality, and makes bold claims about the nature of sexual orientation and the possibility of change:

This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic and that people who experience this mental disorder can and have changed to a heterosexual orientation. It also recognizes that because homosexuals are not born that way, but develop this disorder based on experiences and environmental conditions, it is preventable, especially among young people who are most vulnerable to recruitment into the homosexual lifestyle.

“Promoting” homosexuality – including abetting, legitimizing or merely failing to report an offense –  would also be punished by imprisonment.

A new offense of “aggravated homosexuality” would mean the death penalty for serial offenders, those with HIV, or those who engage in homosexuality with anyone disabled or under the age of 18.

The new laws would also apply to Ugandan citizens living outside the country.

Earlier this year, in response to critics of Exodus’s role in promoting gay hate in Uganda, Exodus Vice-President Randy Thomas wrote:

It isn’t going to be a gay activist yelling at the Ugandan government that will actually get our ssa brothers and sisters out of jail. It will be people like me pleading with these leaders to recognize the Christ-likeness inherent in respecting self-determination and the dignity of every soul that draws breath.

It would seem an appropriate time for Randy to start pleading. Under the new legislation such pleading would be surely viewed as criminal, an instance of abetting and legitimizing homosexuality. Will Randy plead and encourage other Christian leaders in Uganda – who could well find themselves imprisoned for defending gays – to plead also?

Let us not forget that the drive towards the proposed legislation was fueled in no small part by US ex-gay activists, including Exodus board member Don Schmierer, co-operating with Ugandan leaders in their crusade against homosexuals. If Randy’s concern for his “ssa brothers and sisters” goes beyond empty words, perhaps now is the time for him to start protesting.

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