Looking Out: Uganda bill threatens life in prison for 'aggravated homosexuality'

An asylum seeker from Uganda covers his face with a paper bag in order to protect his identity during the Pride Parade in Boston, June 8, 2013.

While you were making your Yuletide gay in the last seven days, Nigeria and Uganda passed legislation to strengthen already-on-the-books laws criminalizing homosexuality.

Ugandan lawmakers last Friday passed legislation that would imprison for life people convicted of "aggravated homosexuality" and make it illegal for those aware of gay activities to not report them. The bill in question has been kicking around the country in some form since 2009. In its initial form, it threatened to make "aggravated homosexuality" (yes, I'm repeating this phrase because of how absurd it sounds) subject to the death penalty, provoking a global outcry.


In response, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement that the U.S. is "deeply concerned" about the bill, adding "that no one should face violence for discrimination for who they are or whom they love." Not exactly a strong rebuke, especially compared to British billionaire Richard Branson's threat to pull all potential business from the country if Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signs the anti-gay bill into law. But it's a step in the right direction.

While Uganda may be the most visible country in Africa to criminalize being gay or gay sex, it hardly stands alone. Nigeria's Senate reportedly passed a comparable law Tuesday that even goes a step further by reportedly making membership to "gay clubs or organizations" illegal as well. According to the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association, 12 northern Nigerian states have made homosexuality punishable by death.


Both Nigeria and Uganda's bills now await the review of their respective presidents.

In other news:

Assuming you weren't too busy guzzling eggnog, what LGBT news had you talking this week?