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.