via Bloomberg News, by the editors

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill just won’t go away.

Last spring, an egregious proposal by a member of the ruling party to impose harsh penalties, including death, for homosexual acts was shelved for a second time when Uganda’s parliament recessed without debating it. This week, parliament moved to revive the measure.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda. The law would increase the maximum penalties, providing up to life imprisonment for homosexual acts and execution for so-called aggravated homosexuality — repeated homosexual behavior, homosexual acts with a minor or a disabled person, and homosexual acts by anyone who is HIV-positive.

The original bill also made it punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment to fail to report homosexual behavior to authorities within 24 hours. In the last parliamentary session, a committee recommended scratching that provision, which would compromise health workers involved in AIDS control efforts. It’s not clear this time around whether the bill will go through the committee process anew; in any case, committee views are not binding.

The bill enjoys considerable support in Uganda, where homosexuality is widely abhorred, and may well pass if it comes to a parliamentary vote. President Yoweri Museveni would probably veto it, knowing that passage would alienate Uganda’s Western allies, on whom the country relies for development assistance.

For now, the circus around the draft law suits Museveni, who has been in power for 25 years. Domestically, it whips up support for his party, the National Resistance Movement. Internationally, it attracts opprobrium but also distracts critics from other Ugandan scandals for which Museveni bears more direct responsibility: the arrest of opposition figures, police brutality, corruption.

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