The topic of same sex marriage is one that has caused much controversy, and resulted in an ongoing and passionate struggle between people, religions, governments etc. A number of governments around the world are now debating the possibility of granting legal recognition to same-sex marriages. Others however, are writing up bills and signing the dotted line so as to prohibit any homosexual behaviors. The president of Uganda, Museveni, recently passed an anti-gay bill which calls for first time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in jail, and has life imprisonment set as the maximum penalty for something referred to as “aggravated homosexuality”. This bill brought forth a rise in anti-gay sentiments around the country, in turn setting the gay community back tremendously.
The anti-gay bill was written in response to a conference held in Uganda. This conference was organized by a group of American evangelicals who argued that homesexuality was “the greatest threat to the cohesion of the African family.” Human rights groups in East Africa have been pointing a very stern finger in the direction of these evangelicals. David Bahati, a Christian and a member of the branch of Ugandan parliament responsible for the original ‘Kill the Gays’ bill and it’s current reformation, has argued that more severe anti-gay laws are necessary to protect Uganda from the damaging influence of Western liberalism.
The bill received condemning responses around the world and the United States warned that signing the bill would “complicate” the East African country’s relationship with Washington. After Museveni passed the anti-gay bill, the White House stated that the United States intends to urge the Ugandan governments to repel the “abhorrent law.” As a result of the passing of this bill, many European countries are withdrawing millions of direct support to Uganda’s government, who depend on those donors for about 25 percent of their budget.
Some of the world’s largest religions currently hold doctrines that view homosexuality in a negative way and are actively opposing social acceptance. These doctrines have proven to greatly influence the way certain countries are governed. As seen in this article, religious convictions had a clear and strong influence on the passing of Uganda’s anti-gay bill. Not only does this undermine basic human privacy rights, it also ignored the fundamental human rights that Uganda is obligated to protect under the International Covenant of Civil Rights and Political Rights, as well as the African Charter of Human and People Rights.