Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 13 November
Uganda to pass anti-homosexual law as ‘Christmas gift’
The Ugandan government has announced it will pass an anti-homosexuality bill before the end of the year as a “Christmas gift” to Ugandans who are demanding it.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, as it is in many African countries, but activists including Christian clerics have been pushing for increased anti-gay legislation.
In 2009, Parliamentarian David Bahati agreed that a stronger law was needed “to protect Uganda’s children from homosexuals.” Mr Bahati said that wealthy homosexuals from the West were “recruiting” poor children into gay lifestyles with promises of money and a better life.
The initial draft legislation, which became known in the Ugandan press as the “Kill the Gays Bill”, called for the death penalty for anyone engaging in sexual relations with someone of the same gender who was under the age of 18.
It sparked a wave of international concern. US President Barack Obama described it as “odious”, while some European countries threatened to cut aid to Uganda if the proposal became law. Human rights groups also expressed alarm.
In a deeply conservative country where 85 per cent of the population is Christian, many Ugandans believe homosexuality poses a threat to Bible-based values and traditions.
The revised bill will drop the death penalty and instead advocate life imprisonment for some gay people – with harsh sentences for those who are aware of homosexual activity but do not report it.
Parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga told the Associated Press on Monday that the bill was a response to a meeting with anti-gay activists who asked for the new law to be passed as “a Christmas gift”.
She said: “Who are we not to do what they have told us? These people should not be begging us.”
Gay rights activists in Uganda, while opposing the bill, observed that it may have helped the fight for equality by putting what used to be a taboo subject on both the national and international agenda.
Pepe Julian Onziema, a prominent Ugandan gay activist, said: “It's disappointing, but we are also going to seek a meeting with the speaker.”
While the bill appears to be popular in Uganda, and is expected to pass without difficulty, other African nations have refused to support it.
Questions for discussion
- What does the word 'discrimination' mean? Have you heard this word anywhere before?
- In the UK, do you think that gay and lesbian people are treated differently to people who are heterosexual?
- Can you think of any LGBT personalities in the media?
- How do you feel about the bill being called a "Christmas gift"?
- This proposal has sparked international concern, but to what extent should the international community become involved in how other countries are governed?
- Explore the lives of children in five countries and learn about their rights, taking responsibility, respect for others and recognising their role in the global community.
- Take a look at religion and relationships with this excellent series of PowerPoint activities.
- A PowerPoint activity to help pupils consider their attitudes towards same sex relationships and how to support friends in diverse relationships.
- A wealth of lesson ideas and starter activities for covering sexual orientation and homophobia in class.
Further news resources
- Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.
- Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.
- A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.
- Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.
- A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.
In the news this week
A row over errors broadcast on the BBC current affairs programme Newsnight has led to the resignation of three senior figures at the corporation.
Humanoid robots are being used as classroom buddies to support children with autism in a project that aims to improve social interaction and communication.
Barack Obama has won a decisive victory in the US presidential election after months of campaigning, and has promised the American people that "the best is yet to come".
A former history teacher has recreated a First World War trench in his Surrey garden and now plans to launch a website that will allow pupils to explore the front lines.