Other SheepOther Sheep eNews, October 15, 2009

Homosexuals face death penalty in Uganda according to news article
The New Vision, Uganda's Leading Website, Wednesday, 14th October, 2009
"I fear for Uganda, or any state, when the church, by how it acts, might as well be parliament, and parliament, by how it acts, might as well be the church." - Rev. Stephen R. Parelli 
Dear Other Sheep Friend,

This news article was sent to me today by email from a more recent contact in Uganda. He wrote that because of this bill he is finally seeking to leave his country. 
I ask: Where is the voice of the churches in Uganda, that voice that should be raising moral objections to this bill?  I believe, sadly, you are hearing the voice of the churches in Uganda as you read this bill.  Mary Nyangweso Wangila in her book Female Circumcision:  The Interplay of Religion, Culture, and Gender in Kenya quotes John Mbiti as describing Africans as "notoriously religious" by explaining "Wherever the African is, there is his religion:  he carries it to the fields where he is sowing seeds or harvesting a new crop; he takes it with him to the beer party or to attend a funeral ceremony; and if he is educated, he takes religion with him to the examination room at school or in the university; if he is a politician, he takes it to the house of parliament."
Some in the church need to arise and say to the church, "Wait!  The Bible is not at all that clear on the topic of homosexuality.  We have drawn our conclusions without doing our homework on the Biblical passages and we have, therefore, judged our brother perhaps without cause."  Some in parliament need to arise and say to parliament, "Wait!  We are in danger of marking our laws on the basis of religious teaching rather than civil rights for all. Do we enact laws that copy ecclesiastical codes, or do we enact laws that protect the equality and justice of all?"
I fear for Uganda, or any state, when the church, by how it acts, might as well be parliament, and parliament, by how it acts, might as well be the church. 
May God save the parliament of Uganda from this bill of civil injustice and social inequality.
Rev. Steve Parelli
MCC Clergy 
Wednesday, 14th October, 2009
By Mary Karugaba and Catherine Bekunda 
Aggravated homosexuality will be punished by death, according to a new bill tabled in Parliament yesterday.

The private member's bill was tabled by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati (NRM).

A person commits aggravated homosexuality when the victim is a person with disability or below the age of 18, or when the offender is HIV-positive.

The bill thus equates aggravated homosexuality to aggravated defilement among people of different sexes, which also carries the death sentence.

The Bill, entitled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, also states that anyone who commits the offence of homosexuality will be liable to life imprisonment.

This was already the case under the current Penal Code Act.

However, it gives a broader definition of the offence of homosexuality.

A person charged with the offence will have to undergo a mandatory medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

The bill further states that anybody who "attempts to commit the offence" is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

"The same applies to anybody who "aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality" or anybody who keeps a house or room for the purpose of homosexuality.

The bill also proposes stiff sentences for people promoting homosexuality.

They risk a fine of sh100m or prison sentences of five to seven years.

This applies to people who produce, publish or distribute pornographic material for purposes of promoting homosexuality, fund or sponsor homosexuality.

Where the offender is a business or NGO, its certificate of registration will be cancelled and the director will be liable to seven years in prison.

Failure to disclose the offence within 24 hours of knowledge makes somebody liable to a maximum sh5m fine or imprisonment of up to three years.

The provisions, according to the bill, are meant to "protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex."

They are also meant to prohibit the "promotion or recognition of such sexual relations in public institutions and other places through or with the support of any government entity or NGO."

The bill further aims at protecting children and youth who are "made vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technologies and increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption or foster care."

Bahati said the legislation is intended to complement the provisions of the Constitution and the Penal Code Act.

Other Sheep is a multi-cultural ecumenical Christian ministry that works worldwide for the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith within their respective faith traditions.