ONE of the largest companies in Uganda, Citibank, is refusing to take a stance against the proposed “Kill The Gays” bill which the country intends passing into law this month.
Over 500,000 people have petitioned the company, as well as Barclays, to come out against the odious bill if only to protect its employees and customers in the country.
Citibank responded to the petition yesterday, but only reiterated its non-discrimination policy:
While the laws and cultural norms in some countries where Citi operates differ from commonly accepted global standards for human rights, Citi supports equality without regard for, among other personal characteristics, race, gender, gender identity or expression, disability, age, nationality, or sexual orientation.
According to this report, “Supporting equality” is a particularly weak statement in response to a bill that would blatantly persecute gay people and their allies with life sentences in prison or the death penalty.
Barclays at least took the added step of acknowledging the bill and its opposition:
Barclays has a strong history of supporting all aspects of diversity, both in the workplace and in wider society. Equally, we are proud of playing our part in the development of economies across Africa, and the key role Barclays plays in the lives of millions of our African customers. Barclays is aware of the proposed legislation relating to homosexuality in Uganda and we are engaging at appropriate levels of the Ugandan Government to express our views.
Please Sign the Change.org petition to encourage these banking giants to use their significant corporate influence to protect the lives of LGBT citizens.
Meanwhile, it is reported here that the Ugandan Parliament member who first introduced the Bill, Christian fundamentalist David Bahati, says that a new version of the anti-homosexuality bill will no longer stipulate the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.”
Citing “all the issues that have been raised” with the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill, Bahati told The Associated Press yesterday:
There is no death penalty.
Those issues perhaps include the massive international outcry, condemnation by world leaders (including President Obama) and threats from several nations to cut financial aid to the African nation. Bahati’s statements, however, contradict earlier reports that claimed the death penalty could not been removed as no changes can be made to the bill.
Previous versions of the bill provided for capital punishment in cases of “aggravated homosexuality,” meaning gays with HIV having sex, gays having sex with minors or the disabled, or gays discovered having sex for the second time.
Now, according to Bahati, the bill is intended to protect children from gay pornography, ban gay marriage, counsel gays and punish anyone who promotes gay culture.
The bill has been under review by a committee, though it was allegedly the number one order of business for Parliament on Tuesday.
Said Krispus Ayena, a member of the committee:
There was a dissenting voice in the committee. They argued very forcefully that we should not do a thing like that: to regulate what goes on in bedrooms. First of all, is it practicable to regulate that? And there are those who say this is very oppressive.