The parliament of Uganda overwhelmingly passed a controversial anti-homosexuality bill on December 20, 2013 that would punish gays and lesbians with life in prison in some cases as well as jail anyone who did not report gay people to authorities.
The bill was passed shortly after the socially conservative country's parliament approved an anti-pornography bill that would criminalize clothing that shows a woman's thighs, like mini-skirts.
Ugandan member of parliament, David Bahati, who proposed the anti-homosexuality bill back in 2009, re-tabled the bill after removing clauses seeking the death penalty following intense public and international pressure.
During the parliamentary debate, there was exchange of words between Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, after the prime minister argued that the parliament did not meet the minimum number of members present to hold the vote.
The law is now awaiting president's signature. The president has less than two months to sign the bill into the law, or to send it back to the floor of parliament for amendment.
Below is a short roundup of reactions online:
Frank Mugisha, the leader of Sexual Minorities Uganda, an organisation that fights for gay rights, tweeted:
Breaking News : I am officially illegal : Uganda Parliament passes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009
— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) December 20, 2013
Ugandan BBC radio journalist, Alan Kasujja, was optimistic:
It is highly unlikely that the President will assent to the anti Homosexuality bill. @AmamaMbabazi et al have voiced opposition to it.
— Alan Kasujja – BBC (@kasujja) December 20, 2013
LGBT activist Pepe Julian Onziema pointed out a situation in which the bill can be passed without the president's signature:
Parliament can send it bk for é 2nd time, and if rejected a 2nd time. A 2 thirds majority can pass it w'out é President. #AHBUganda
— Pepe Julian Onziema (@Opimva) December 20, 2013
Amaka Okechukwu was disheartened by the bill:
— Amaka Okechukwu (@AmakaOke) December 20, 2013
— EjS. (@EyvindJS) December 20, 2013
However, James Howlett celebrated after hearing the news:
— James Howlett (@NotCalled_Aswad) December 20, 2013
A reader on the Daily Monitor website, EJS, commented:
Ridiculous! Ban on homosexuality and mini-skirts. NO WONDER THIS IS ONE OF THE WORLD'S LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES!!! Lol (MPs; get a real job and stop stealing tax payers money!)
Another reader, John Buluma, said that there are more serious issues that should be focused on, like corruption, rather than homosexuality:
This just confirms that Uganda is the worst place to be gay on earth. Why focus on none [sic] issues when they country is decaying with corruption?