Uganda: Looking Deeper

I’ve written before about Uganda’s Kill-the-Gays-and-All-their Friends bill.  Apparently it’s even worse than I thought.  We’ve already established that it doesn’t kill gays only.  It sentences to death “serial offenders” of homosexuality and “related offences,” which include things that have nothing to do with gay sex.  For instance, a straight person could be put to death if they don’t rat out gay friends after hearing about a couple’s romantic evenings.

So how could things get worse?  Look at what the definition of homosexuality covers: A person is guilty if “he or she touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality,” and:

“touching” includes touching—

(a) with any part of the body;

(b) with anything else;

(c) through anything;

and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ. anus or mouth.

That “with anything else” part is just screwy.  It sounds like something from a sitcom.  Imagine a scene with a trainer and his client:

Trainer:  There’s only two things you can’t eat on this diet.

Client:  Great!  What’s the first?

Trainer:  Ice cream.

Client:  And the other?

Trainer:  Anything else.

Unfortunately, the law isn’t a joke.  You could be found guilty of homosexual touching merely for passing your phone number to someone without even making skin contact.  “He touched me!  With a note!  Through my glove!”  And god forbid you pat someone on the shoulder or shake their hand.  (Yeah, the bill singles out penetration “in particular,” but “in particular” doesn’t mean “limited to.”)

This sort of all-encompassing with-anything/through-anything paranoia permeates the entire bill.  A person is guilty if he or she “attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices.”   That’s conveniently vague.  The law applies to Ugandan citizens who commit offences inside Uganda and outside, too — in other words, anywhere.   So that note I mentioned earlier?  Uganda could put a citizen in prison for passing it while travelling in West Hollywood, Chelsea, or the Castro.  No place is safe.

The authors wrote the bill so they could convict any citizen, anywhere, of almost anything.  I wonder whether that was accidental incompetence, or exactly the point.

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