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KAMPALA, Uganda (ChurchMilitant.com) - Uganda's lawmakers are clamping down on homosexuality by passing a bill criminalizing the promotion of homosexuality with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
On Tuesday, the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" was passed with the support of 398 lawmakers out of 400. Now, it's on the desk of President Yoweri Museveni for ratification.
The legislation states, "A person commits the offense of homosexuality if the person holds out as a lesbian, gay, transgender, a queer or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female."
The bill further bans "promoting and abetting homosexuality as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality."
Earlier this year, lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa introduced the bill with the aim of protecting "our church culture; the legal, religious and traditional family values of Ugandans from the acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country."
Punishment of 10 years is tame compared to what some MPs were calling for. According to CNN, some were calling for those who participate in sodomitical activities to be castrated. Others advocated for life imprisonment for predators who get children involved in homosexual activity.
LGBT activists are slamming the bill, but they aren't alone. In January, during an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, the Holy Father said of same-sex attraction, "It's not a crime. Yes, but it's a sin. Fine, but first let's distinguish between a sin and a crime."
In fact, the vicar of Christ went on to call out laws criminalizing homosexual acts: "That's wrong. It's very wrong. I don't think anyone should be discriminated against." According to The New York Times, in response to being "asked whether the church should work toward repealing the laws, Francis said, 'Yes, yes, they have to do it, they have to do it.'"
According to statista.com, as of 2022, 68 countries criminalize homosexuality. Most of those countries are located in the Middle East, Africa and Asia — and that's compared to the more than 120 countries that have legalized homosexuality.
Uganda, specifically, has a history of laws penalizing same-sex activity that goes back far before the Francis pontificate. According to Africanews.com, despite having colonial-era laws on the books criminalizing same-sex activity, "since independence from Britain in 1962, there has never been a conviction for consensual same-sex activity."
More recently, in 2014, lawmakers in the country passed a bill calling for life imprisonment for those caught in the act of gay sex, but a court later struck down the law on a technicality. Five years earlier, lawmakers introduced a bill that would make the practice of homosexual activity punishable by death.