Does Bob Emrich want to kill gays?

Courtesy of local activist Jill Barkley, we discover that Bob Emrich (one of the leaders of the Yes On 1 campaign) has sent around to supporters a note appearing to endorse the proposal in Uganda that would create a law that criminalizes homosexuality, and allows homosexuals to be put to death under certain circumstances. Her fear, and that of many in the gay community, is that Emrich's note implies support for this proposal.

Emrich has replied, however, in terms that, while perhaps somewhat reassuring (he outright says, "I do not believe [homosexuality] should be punishable by death or life imprisonment") is nevertheless a bit odd.

But let us say that as best we can tell, his summary of what the bill would and would not require is accurate. It does criminalize homosexual acts. It does not, however, call for the execution of all gays. It does call for the life-imprisonment of people who engage in oral or anal sex with anyone (regardless of the gender of the people), or in stimulation of the "sexual organ of a person of the same sex," or if "he or she touches another person with the intention" of doing any of those things.

It also creates a crime of "aggravated homosexuality" that would be committed if the alleged "offender" is HIV-positive, drugs or stuns a person so as to have sex with them, or is the parent, guardian, or other authority figure for the alleged "victim." Aggravated homosexuality would also include homosexual acts with people under the age of 18 or with disabilities, or if the accused is a "serial offender."

"Aggravated homosexuality" would indeed be punishable by death.

However, after giving an able summary of the bill as it is proposed (and it is still subject to legislative debate and amendment), Emrich includes two common canards used by anti-gay groups. First, he asks the gay community "to recommend alternative measures to prevent the sexual abuse of minors and disabled persons." Of course, we already have strong and (mostly) effective laws about that - and his "request" is merely a thinly veiled accusation that homosexuals are pedophiles. Which, of course, they aren't (at least not any more than the regular population). Insert your own joke here about Catholic priests.

And then Emrich suggests that "it would be helpful if [gay-rights activists] spent some of their energy and resources to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS." While sure, more help in that fight would be great, from any quarter, Emrich is disingenuous if he is suggesting that the gay community is not supporting that effort, and even more so if he looks at the history of the Christian right's assaults on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment - and work to add his own efforts to the HIV/AIDS fight.


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