Ugandan parliamentary member Latif Ssebaggala’s attempt at pushing through a revised version of the country’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill has stalled after running into significant political hurdles, Buzzfeed reports.
Earlier this year Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni first signed into law an earlier version of the bill that mandated heavy jail time and fines for Ugandan citizens found engaging in homosexual acts. In August, the law was repealed due to a parliamentary technicality that invalidated its initial passing. Ssebaggala spearheaded the effort to reintroduce a revised version of the bill almost immediately.
"The draft is ready and we have strengthened the law, especially in areas of promotion and luring children,” he told Reuters in November. “Next week we expect to meet the speaker to fix a date for the re-tabling to parliament."
The roadblocks facing the revised bill are complex and larger than Uganda’s social views on homosexuality. In August, facing economic backlash from countries that provide aid to Uganda, President Museveni endeavored his cabinet to reconsider their positions on the bill. A revised version, it was suggested, should focus more on the protection of children and the disabled, rather than expressly criminalizing homosexuality.
Though Museveni called for the new bill to forego punishing consenting gay adults, Ssebaggala’s new bill more or less featured a more intense set of legal consequences for gay people. Though Ssebaggala insisted that a new bill would be passed in time for Christmas, it would appear as if Museveni’s personal political machinations are standing in the way.
In February, after the initial passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, foreign aid from the U.S. and the World Bank were suspended and drastically cut, severely wounding Uganda’s governmental finances. Museveni, who has been Uganda’s president for the past three decades, is up for election once again in 2016.
Historically Museveni has always poured massive amounts of Western money into projects meant to please voters in the months leading up to elections. In short, he can’t afford to lose Western aid in the near future for fear of risking his position, and wholeheartedly backing a new Anti-Homosexuality bill would do just that.