Ugandan parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga has promised to deliver a very controversial gift to the Ugandan nation by Christmas: new, harsh laws which would punish those practicing homosexuality with prison sentences.
The bill would ban the nation’s residents from engaging in a homosexual lifestyle or promotion of it. The measure was first drafted in October 2009, and initially included a maximum penalty of death.
However, the bill in its current form assigns various jail terms for those convicted of homosexuality, with life imprisonment being the most severe punishment.
Though the measure has drawn international criticism, Ugandan citizens and lawmakers said it is crucial to protecting the county’s moral standing.
President Obama, a vocal denouncer of the bill, described it as “odious,” saying the U.S. would only contribute aid to those nations that, “promote equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the world.”
Obama isn’t the only national leader threatening to pull aid to Uganda if the law passes. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that he would eliminate aid to any country that does not support equal rights of homosexual individuals.
The strong international condemnation leaves veteran Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in a tight spot, balancing the ethical and financial security of the nation.
However, Kadaga insisted that Ugandan citizens support the measure
“Ugandans want this law as a Christmas present, we are going to give to them,” she told Reuters. “It is very, very possible, we can do it.”