February 9, 2010
Church of Uganda Recommends Amending Anti-Homosexuality Bill
The Church of Uganda released its official position on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that, if passed in its proposed version, would recommend the death penalty or life in prison for various homosexual acts.
The bill suggests the death penalty for people have homosexual sex with minors, the disabled, while being HIV-positive, serial offenders, or if the person is in authority over another. In its executive summary, the Church of Uganda addresses the proportionality in sentencing but does not offer specific recommendations for changes to the proposed sentences. In a statement provided to Christianity Today, the Church of Uganda expressed concerns with the bill, recommending that the bill be amended to reflect the following:
1. Ensure that the law protects the confidentiality of medical, pastoral and counseling relationships, including those that disclose homosexual practice in accordance with the relevant professional codes of ethics.
2. Language that strengthens the existing Penal Code to protect the boy child, especially from homosexual exploitation; to prohibit lesbianism, bestiality, and other sexual perversions; and to prohibit procurement of material and promotion of homosexuality as normal or as an alternative lifestyle, be adopted.
3. Ensure that homosexual practice or the promotion of homosexual relations is not adopted as a human right.
4. Existing and future Educational materials and programmes on gender identity and sex education are in compliance with the values and the laws of Uganda.
5. The involvement of additional stakeholders in the evaluation of the gaps in the existing legislation, including, but not limited to, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, its Department of Immigration and other relevant departments.
6. The undertaking of a comprehensive legislative and literature review of all the laws and literature related to the subject at hand in order to identify the actual gaps in the existing legislations.
The Church of Uganda said it appreciates the following objectives in the bill:
a) provide for marriage in Uganda as contracted only between a man and woman;
b) prohibit and penalize homosexual behaviour and related practices in Uganda as they constitute a threat to the traditional family;
c) prohibit ratification of any international treaties, conventions, protocols, agreements and declarations which are contrary or inconsistent with the provisions of the Act;
d) prohibit the licensing of organizations which promote homosexuality.
According to the 2002 census, about 36 percent of the country belongs to the Church of Uganda while 42 percent of the country belongs to the Catholic Church.
Several American Christians such as Rick Warren and Charles Colson have denounced the bill. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni distanced himself from the bill, and David Bahati, who proposed the bill, said he was willing to "amend some clauses."