Sunday, December 2, 2012

Grab your pitchforks! We're going on a witch hunt.

So it seems I'm sort of out-of-the-loop on something, which isn't a great way to start this post on a blog called "In The Know."  But as they say, honesty is the best policy.

My mom sent me an e-mail asking me to sign a petition.  Now is very reputable, but the petition seemed so outlandish, so ridiculous, so couldn't-possibly-be-true, that I had to do my own journalistic research to look into this issue.  After going through my rigorous Google searches, it turns out.. it is true.

The issue is Uganda's so-called "Kill the Gays" bill, and here's why you should know about it (if you don't already):
The bill, proposed in 2009, would "prohibit any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; prohibit the promotion or recognition of such relations and to provide for other related matters."

If you don't speak legal-ese, fear not!  I do.

The bill claims its intent is to "protect the children... of Uganda who are made vulnerable to sexual abuse."  Because obviously children are only abused by people in homosexual relationships.

The bill criminalizes not only being in a same sex marriage, but taking part in any same-sex sexual acts "and other related acts."  So can I hold my friends hand, who happens to be a girl?  I'm not sure... but I probably wouldn't want to try it and find out.

As I read on, I got to the penalty for such heinous actions.

Seven years in prison.  For two consenting adults engaging in homosexual action in any shape or form.

And if you commit "aggravated homosexuality," (i.e. someone is younger than 18, has HIV, incest of any sort, if someone is disabled, a "serial offender" or uses drugs) the penalty is life in prison.  But when I looked a little closer, I found this gem buried in there: "a person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death."

The Video Journalism Movement posted a video about the bill on Youtube in February 2010.  
WARNING: this video contains violent images.

So now we're all on the same page.  Let's dive in.

It seems that this bill gained much attention in early 2010, soon after it was released.  Media attention quickly went away, however, until just recently when it seemed that the bill has gained traction.  It is now proposed to be voted on before the year is up, so things are really moving fast.

As if to make things "better," the death penalty provision was removed from the bill recently, but a new version of the bill has not been released.  One can but assume that homosexuality still holds lengthy jail fines.

Now I'm not saying there aren't some justified remarks in this bill.  Before you grab your pitchforks and burn me at the stake, keep in mind that this bill does incur jail fines for crimes such as owning a brothel and incest. Those crimes are also (mostly) punishable in the United States with jail time.  That being said, this bill takes those crimes to a whole new level.

We are not even an entire month past the U.S. presidential election, and I can't help but think of where we are now, but also where we're going.  I wrote a post looking at history of social justice in the United States, but maybe I needed to take one giant "Red Light, Green Light"-style step backwards.

When we live in a world where killing people is being called a "Christmas gift", I can't help but truly treasure the freedoms that we do have at this very moment.  Sure, there is progress to be made.  Sure, there are injustices being done here that need to be addressed.  And I am not trying to belittle the problems that many are trying to fight at this very moment.

I merely am saying, perhaps we should take up our pitchforks and fight for good...together.  We are all brothers and sisters in humanity.  We don't always see eye to eye and Lord knows we don't always get along, but maybe, just maybe, it's okay to take a stand together.

Have you heard about this bill?  What do you think should be done?  Keep the conversation going in the comments section below.

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