Q&A: Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha

Published: June 20, 2013

Q&A: Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha

OTTAWA — Frank Mugisha is an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) activist from Uganda who was in Ottawa this week warning about the dangers of a new bill before his country’s parliament that has drawn international scorn.

If passed, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill could, among other things, sentence gays and lesbians to death and jail those who fail to report known or suspected homosexuals.

Here is a condensed version of his conversation with the Citizen.

What is the status of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill?

The anti-gay bill right now is in the legal and parliamentary affairs committee. The committee (is) ready to submit (its report) to the floor of parliament, so when this report is submitted, the bill can go ahead for debate.

What punishment does the bill outline for homosexuals?

It introduces the death penalty for any homosexual person living with HIV/AIDS, so if someone is born with HIV and they come out gay, they should be killed. It has aggravated homosexuality — any kind of male rape, they should be killed, and if any person has sex with anyone below the age of 18, that’s death penalty. If any person engages in same-sex acts with someone who is disabled, that is also death penalty. Or if any person engages in same-sex acts with someone who they are in authority of. So, for example, if I have sex with my boss, my boss can go for the death penalty because they are in authority over me. There’s death penalty for serial offenders, so if you break the law many times, then you can also be killed.

What about the punishment for people who aren’t homosexual but who know homosexuals?

The bill has a clause that says you should report any person who is known or perceived as a homosexual to the authorities, so that means families have to report their own children, doctors have to report their clients, priests have to report people who come to confess about anything that is related to homosexuality. If they don’t (report), they become criminals. The bill also requires Uganda to withdraw from all international treaties that are in favour of sexual orientation and gender identity, and (it) requires all NGOs working in Uganda — if they are receiving funding from any organization affiliated with an organization that works on sexual orientation or gender identity — (to be) deregistered in Uganda.

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