On Friday, the Ugandan parliament approved a bill that will punish "aggravated homosexuality" with life imprisonment. The new measure comes after years of debate over the measure that was introduced to "protect" Ugandan children from "recruitment" by Western LGBT individuals. Homosexuality is already illegal in the deeply Christian country, but Ugandan lawmakers were largely inspired to strengthen the punishment for being gay thanks to a campaign by a handful of American evangelical activists.
Breaking News : I am officially illegal : Uganda Parliament passes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) December 20, 2013
Although the bill has been considered in Parliament several times since its first introduction in 2009, today's vote seemed to happen with little warning. That's why there are some questions out there about what, exactly, it contains, at least until the final text is publicly available. The bill, widely known as the Ugandan "kill the gays" bill, originally included a provision that would make repeated instances of homosexual acts punishable by death. Member of Parliament David Bahati said on Friday that the death penalty provision would be scrapped from the final version sent to President Yoweri Museveni, and most reports indicate that the death penalty sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. Museveni has to approve the bill for it to become law. The president has said that he doesn't think Uganda should kill gay people, but "we cannot accept promotion of homosexuality as if it is a good thing."
There's also a question of quorum: the country's prime minister opposed the vote, arguing that not enough MPs were present, according to the BBC. Assuming the vote stands, at least one Ugandan lawmaker has already promised to challenge it in court.
Based on earlier versions of the bill, it looks like the measure also contains a provision that could imprison Ugandans who fail to report homosexual activity by others, and a provision banning the "promotion" of homosexuality, similar to Russia's new anti-gay "propaganda" measure. (In Russia, it's believed that merely stating your are gay or support gay people could be grounds for "promotion.")