News / Ottawa

LGBT community protests "kill the gays" bill at Uganda High Commission

Gay rights activists and supporters of the Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFI) protested outside the Uganda High Commission Monday to denounce the country’s so-called “kill the gays” legislation.

Details of the controversial bill have not yet been made public, but on Friday Ugandan MP David Bahati told the Associated Press it does not include a death penalty provision. A vote is expected soon.

The bill focuses on protecting children from gay pornography and banning gay marriage, Bahati said, and some offences carry jail terms.

Kevin Smith, CFI president, said Monday’s protest was meant to tell the Ugandan government that the LGBT community is watching.

“In 2012, we cannot accept abuse of LGBT people in that country,” he said, as about a dozen protesters held signs and chanted “love is not a capital crime.”

Smith said he has heard conflicting reports about whether or not the death penalty for some homosexual acts was still included.

“If this bill passes, which we expect it will, unfortunately, we expect the Canadian government should stop giving aid to Uganda immediately,” said Smith, adding that other countries should follow suit. “We should stop giving aid to a country that kills its citizens.”

Barbara Freeman, a member of the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, said she is “appalled” by the persecution of homosexuals in Uganda.

“There may be little we can do about it, but we can certainly protest to both the Ugandan government through the High Commission...and to the Canadian government,” she said. “We really need to have (Foreign Affairs Minister) John Baird step in and do something about this.”

The Canadian Press reported in October Baird criticized Uganda’s treatment of gays and lesbians at the International Parliamentary Union in Quebec and brought up a case of a gay Ugandan activist who was beaten to death.

That didn’t sit well with the country’s speaker of Parliament, who spoke of Baird’s “arrogance” and “ignorance” and demanded an apology.

-with files from The Associated Press

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