VIA: Reuters/Abubaker Lubowa
KAMPALA, Uganda — Conservative groups that pushed Uganda to toughen its anti-gay laws now worry new legislation is too harsh and could backfire on their cause.
The law, which came into force last week, imposes the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" and carries a 20-year sentence for "promoting homosexuality." Same-sex relationships were already illegal in Uganda but the new law imposes some of the most severe penalties in the world.
"The Church of Uganda supports life and, in principle, does not support the death penalty," said Stephen Kazimba Mugalu, Archbishop of Uganda, in a statement issued on May 29, when President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill into law. The church supported the original bill proposed in parliament, but capital punishment was later added in an amendment.
Family Watch International (FWI), an American evangelical lobby group, said that its leader Sharon Slater met with President Museveni in April, and suggested amendments to soften the penalties in the first version of the legislation that Parliament had just passed, but the changes were not adopted.
"We are disappointed that the president signed the harsh bill into law," FWI director Lynn Allred told Semafor Africa. "We believe there are individuals who will not be able to obtain help to align their sexual behavior with their personal values," Allred added.
Melanie Nathan: "The Parliament and President Museveni reflected in their behavior a haste, an ignorance and an abject failure in due diligence. I do not think they realized how foolish they look in the eyes of the world, given how extreme this legislation turned out . That said, the Evangelicals, preachers from Scott Lively to Martin Ssempa to Lou Engle to Stephen Kazimba Mugalu to Sharon Slaters et al, now will get exactly what they all deserve, This new law and all its outcomes, already evidencing extreme violence and forced displacement, is pinned directly onto their lapels, regardless of their statements that it may be too harsh. They ordered it and they got it and they are 100% to blame for all that will follow it, together with anyone who acts to vote for it, attest to it, enforce it or act out because of it. YOU OWN IT! No amount of words or back peddle can undo what they all did. Now saying it's too extreme is indeed a well deserved backlash that is well earned. They must live with it and suffer the consequence, because they are all responsible for each and every blow to the face of a LGBTQI+ person."