KAMPALA, Uganda - Some gay Ugandans could face the death penalty, and their family and friends could face up to seven years in jail if they fail to report them to authorities, under proposed legislation being considered in Uganda. Even landlords could be imprisoned for renting to homosexuals.
Gay-rights activists say the bill, which has prompted growing international opposition, promotes hatred and could set back efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. They believe that the bill is part of a continentwide backlash because Africa's gay community is becoming more vocal.
"It's a question of visibility," said David Cato, who became an activist after he was beaten four times, arrested twice, fired from his teaching job and outed in the press because he is gay. "When we come out and ask for our rights, they pass laws against us."
The measure was proposed following a visit to Uganda by leaders of U.S. conservative Christian ministries that promote therapy for gays to become heterosexual. However, at least one member of that group has condemned the bill, as has other conservative religious leaders in t he U.S.