12 June 2012- Uganda’s Catholic bishops are calling for the revival of the notorious ‘kill the gays’ bill, despite previously opposing it.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which calls for the execution of gays in the African country, was effectively shelved last year by the government, following sustained pressure from international donor countries.
Despite repeated claims to the contrary, including some unfortunate mainstream reporting, the last version of the bill contained the death penalty in some circumstances.
The Catholic Church had previously been the sole major religion in Uganda in opposition to the bill.
But according to the Daily Monitor, at the annual conference of the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), an ecumenical body which brings together the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, the bishops resolved that it should be brought back from the brink.
The UJCC said that the bill was needed to prevent what they called ‘an attack on the Bible and the institution of marriage’.
The Vatican came out strongly and publicly against the bill and, Wikileaks revealed, even lobbied against it.
Uganda watchers say that the change by the Ugandan Catholic church is ‘very serious’ and that the UJCC resolution was pushed by an Anglican bishop.
Another concern is that, according to the East African, Ugandan President Yowari Museveni is backing his wife, Janet, to take over from him in 2016.
She has close ties to American evangelical dominionist Christian groups and is widely believed to be a force behind the bill.
LGBT activists in Uganda say that despite some setbacks they are slowly increasing visibility and support.
In March, a group managed to join a march against sexual violence with their banner without incident in the capital, Kampala.
Award-winning activist Frank Mugisha, of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said: ‘We see a shift in public opinion and I guess it’s because many Ugandans are talking about homosexuality a lot.
‘There are some local leaders who are now willing to meet and talk to us.
‘The only problem we have is the belief people have that we are promoting homosexuality and recruiting children.’
Mugisha’s group has filed suit in a US court in the first known Alien Tort Statute case seeking accountability for persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
They are suing the American evangelical extremist Scott Lively for creating the anti-gay climate in Uganda which led to the introduction of the ‘kill the gays’ bill.
By Paul Canning