Uganda is set to pass an incredibly regressive and virulent piece of legislation. While homosexual actions are already illegal under the penal code in Uganda, this legislation would make it possible to get life in prison for homosexual actions. Moreover, repeated actions would carry the death penalty. Even attempting to have homosexual relations would be a jailable offense.
Even more egregiously, this bill would mandate that if you knew someone was a homosexual you would be mandated to report him/her to the authorities at threat of jail time. Any organization or individual that is said to be aiding and abetting a homosexual would receive prison time as well.
It is my feeling that the LDS church has an obligation to speak out against this disgusting and morally bankrupt legislation. Firstly, the church has improved its reputation by speaking out strongly in favor of anti-discrimination ordinances. Yet, silence here would reveal the shallow and political nature of that stance.
Moreover, the legislation itself would hurt missionary work on the ground by reducing trust between individuals and the missionaries or their bishops. If someone is gay and mentions that to the missionaries the missionaries might be saddled with an obligation to inform the state. Because we have lay clergy it is incredibly likely that the same would affect bishoprics. Individuals would be forced to stay silent and unable to repent or to come to forgiveness for their actions.
While this bill is intended to stop the spread of AIDS it will likely intensify it by criminalizing the work of aid organizations. When an organization gives condoms to an individual that might be gay, that could be considered aiding and abetting and lead to serious consequences. All this bill will do is drive homosexuals underground leading to more unprotected sex and the rapid spread of the disease.
I find myself in firm agreement with this editorial in the Dallas Voice. Any church that has taken a strong stance critical of homosexuality in the past has a moral obligation to denounce this piece of legislation.
This measure is widely unpopular world wide. Sweden is cutting off financial aid to Uganda if this passes. The Canadian Anglican Church has voted unanimously to condemn this legislation. A member of the Ugandan church has called this bill a ‘genocide’. Box Turtle Bulletin has been doing the best job of any site I’ve found in chronicling this legislation.
Fortunately, there is no LDS link to this legislation. I have yet to find any connection between an LDS lawmaker and this legislation. I hope that no such link emerges.
The church should take the moral high ground and call out this hateful legislation for what it is.