(Kampala, Uganda) – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni today signed sweeping anti-gay legislation into law. His signing of the law was greeted by both applause and sighs of relief from Ugandan officials.
Under the new law, it is illegal not to report homosexual acts – or homosexuals – to authorities, ensuring that gays will have to live secret lives in order to avoid prison. First-time offenders could be sentenced to 14 years; repeat offenders could spend the rest of their lives in jail.
In an ironic twist, the legislation also punishes those who associate with homosexuals, and some are interpreting this to include those who would report homosexuals, as well as those who take the reports on homosexual activities. In theory, government spokesmen – and government officials – could find themselves being sentenced to prison.
“Yeah, we really didn’t think that one through,” said a Ugandan spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The White House warned Museveni just last week about signing the legislation into law, saying it could damage relations between the two countries and could lead to reducing or cutting off the $400 million in aid the United States sends to Uganda each year.
“President Obama deplores this legislation in the strongest possible terms,” said a White House spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He has told President Museveni that there will be consequences. We have absolutely no idea what the consequences might be, but there will be consequences. And that’s consequential.”
The Ugandan legislation comes less than two months after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signing similar legislation into law.
“It seemed like bad luck in Nigeria at the time, but now we see it’s open season on gays in Africa,” said a United Nations spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s also troubling that African leaders have decided to make this type of legislation a priority over issues such as HIV/AIDS, overpopulation, and rampant poverty in Africa.”
For anyone who thinks the “civilized world” is above such legislation, one only has to look to Russia. In June 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a “gay propaganda ban” into law. And regarding the February 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Putin told reporters on January 17 that gays could “feel calm and at ease” at the Olympics as long as they “leave kids alone, please.”
And closer to home, Arizona’s state legislature passed Senate Bill 1062 on February 20. The bill, not yet signed by Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ), would allow businesses to refuse service to gays based on the religious beliefs of business owners.
Proponents see the legislation as a way to counter the effects of gay marriage, which is now legal in a number of states. They also see the legislation not as discriminatory but rather as a First Amendment issue, allowing individuals to live comfortably by their own puritanical religious beliefs.
Opponents see the legislation as nothing but discriminatory and wonder which group – or groups – might be targeted next. Thanks to the Arizona legislature’s Web site, pending legislation can be reviewed for its busy 2014 schedule:
|Bill Number||Purpose of Legislation|
|Senate Bill 1062||Allows businesses to refuse service to gays based on the religious beliefs of business owners|
|Senate Bill 1070||Allows businesses to refuse service to people with extra-long fingernails based on the hygiene beliefs business owners|
|Senate Bill 1090||Allows businesses to refuse service to people who put ketchup on hot dogs based on the beliefs about hot dogs and mustard of business owners|
|Senate Bill 1099||Allows businesses to refuse service to Senator John McCain (R-AZ) based on business owners being tired of McCain|
|Senate Bill 1100||Allows businesses to refuse service to those who are literate based on the education level of business owners|
|Senate Bill 1130||Allows businesses to refuse service to those who are illiterate based on the education level of business owners|
|Senate Bill 1210||Allows businesses to refuse service to terrorists based on the safety concerns of business owners|
|Senate Bill 1450||Allows businesses to refuse service to those who refuse to refrigerate open jars of mayonnaise based on the refrigerant beliefs of business owners|
|Senate Bill 1500||Allows businesses to refuse service to anyone saying “116° is ‘no big deal’ because Arizona’s heat is a ‘dry heat'” based on the climate change beliefs of business owners|