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EDITORIAL: Anti-gay Bill is not helpful

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, now commonly known as ‘Bahati Bill’, would be oppressive and brutal if passed into law by Parliament, and assented to by the President.The Bill, vigorously promoted by Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati, seems to be putting homosexuality at the same level as murder and treason, which is preposterous.

True, the state has a role to play in promoting public morality and the laws on prostitution, bestiality and incest, among others, are in place largely because of this.

But Bahati’s approach to homosexuality is largely radical and seems to be informed by personal aversion towards gay sex. It’s particularly disturbing when the Bill seeks to make every citizen spy on the other and thereby intrude into other people’s privacy.

He wants everyone who gets to know about an individual’s homosexual orientation, including his or her parents, other family members, medical workers, religious leaders and school authorities, to report to the Police.

If homosexuality is a social deviance, as some scholars have chosen to categorise it, and it can be redeemed with counseling of the culprits, why then punish those who seek to correct this anomaly through psychological means?

Moreover, this Bill does not give room for rehabilitation; it focuses on punitive action alone. And the punishments also come very stiff, including the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” But like experience has shown with crimes such as murder and treason, the death penalty has not succeeded in deterring the perpetrators.

Besides, homosexuality is already prohibited under Uganda’s laws. Why is another law so important at this point? How many Ugandans have ever come across a homosexual or lesbian for this to become such a serious matter that must be stopped at all costs, even if it means through draconian legislation?

Having a different moral view is not good enough reason for Parliament to enact laws that are unconstitutional and violate people’s rights to privacy, freedom of speech and expression.

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© 2016 Observer Media Ltd