Uganda Parliament To Take Up Bill Banning LGBT Free Speech

Jim Burroway

July 26th, 2009

Uganda’s Parliament is scheduled to take up a new bill which would strengthen the country’s already draconian statutes against homosexuality. Current law provides for lifetime imprisonment for conviction of its colonial-era anti-sodomy law. The new law, coupled with an anti-pornography bill, will go further by banning all forms of free speech on behalf of LGBT people:

Recently, [Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba] Buturo said that once the two bills are passed into law, it will be an offence to publish and distribute literature on homosexuality.

He also said it would become impossible for homosexuals to address press conferences and attract people to support their cause.

So far, there is no word on what penalties will be applied in the latest efforts to strip LGBT citizens of their free-speech rights.

The latest round of anti-gay actions in Uganda began last March when three American anti-gay activists, including Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively and Exodus International board member Don Schmierer conducted a three-day anti-gay conference in Kampala, the nation’s capital. While there, conference participants met with members of Parliament and called for strengthening that nation’s laws against homosexuality. Government ministers promised to take action later that month. That same-anti-gay conference also served as the impetus for a long-running anti-gay vigilante campaign that continues still. While several people have been caught up in the campaign, while Pentecostal pastors have used it to settle scores with rival pastors.

Click here to see BTB\’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

L. Junius Brutus

July 26th, 2009

This is what fundamentalists in America, and elsewhere, would do if they had the power. Never let down your guard, people.

AJD

July 26th, 2009

L. Junius Brutus is exactly right. It’s important to remember that in Lawrence v. Texas, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and others filed friend of the court briefs calling on the court to uphold Texas’ sodomy law.

Now, the religious right is living out its fantasies in Uganda, Russia and other countries.

Joe in California

July 26th, 2009

It’s a shame that we have church and government aid organizations here and elsewhere that send funds and tax dollars to so called christian groups that also promote this stance.
Be aware of where your church and tax dollars are going.

AJD

July 26th, 2009

What scares me is that this is how things like the Holocaust start. Barring some action by the international community, things are likely to get much uglier in Uganda.

----

July 26th, 2009

I’m against the invasion of other countries but someone needs to teach that third-world hellhole a lesson.

R Holmes

July 27th, 2009

Is there anything we can do?

werdna

July 27th, 2009

While I agree that the situation in Uganda is deeply troubling, I think it’s important to respond in ways that avoid simplistic and ignorant stereotypes (specifically the characterization of Uganda as a “”third-world hellhole”). I happen to be in Kampala at the moment and want to assure readers that it’s quite friendly and welcoming, though obviously there is deep and profound homophobia here.

R Holmes’ question is the right one: is there anything we, non-Ugandans can do? Certainly we can criticize those in the West (as BTB has been doing) who are encouraging and supporting those who are pushing anti-gay (and anti-democratic, anti-free speech, etc.) measures here. We can contact people here in Uganda to ask them what kinds of support would be helpful. We can contact our elected officials and ask them to push for diplomatic pressure to be applied to condemn laws which criminalize homosexuality and which restrict free speech. We can also write letters to the daily papers here, which are too often vehicles for unadulterated anti-gay bile.

At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a real danger of creating a backlash against perceived outside interference in internal Ugandan (and Kenyan or African politics). It’s not uncommon for political and social debates (not just on gay issues) to descend into arguments about what’s “African” and what’s “un-African.” It can be tricky to find ways to be supportive of African LGBTs without placing them in an even more vulnerable position.

----

July 27th, 2009

werdna,

Sorry for expressing myself that way. I’m just angry at the whole situation. I don’t want to appear prejudiced, but most black people everywhere seem to show contempt for LGBTs. I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve been thinking the only reason South Africa has gay marriage is b/c of its white population.

Timothy Kincaid

July 27th, 2009

South Africa has gay marriage in large part to the support of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela for the gay community.

As for “black people everywhere”, I would caution that we consider for a moment the great number of black leaders in this country who are unabashed in their support, who are willing to call civil rights for gay men and women by that term, and who speak against discrimination directed towards our community.

Yes, like all communities there are some who are bigoted. And there are some are very supportive on some issues but who have not yet adopted full equality for gay men and women. And it is probably true to say that there is at this particular moment in time less support for gay marriage and other forms of equality in black America than in other ethnic subgroups.

But it is a gross misstatement to suggest that “black people everywhere” are homophobic. It just isn’t true.

On a personal note, it was a black friend that I first trusted enough to tell that I’m gay. And I have had many interactions with black heterosexuals since that time and found that most were very supportive.

Richard W. Fitch

July 27th, 2009

Ted Olson & David Boies are currently mounting a legal challenge at the federal level which has as one of its central arguments the SCOTUS ruling regarding Loving vs. Virginia, the landmark case that abolished mixed-race marriage laws in the US. Mildred Loving, an African-American woman, on the 40th anniversary of the decision in June 2007, made this statement:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Adam

August 17th, 2009

I am so glad that someone in this world is standing up to indecency! Wish America was more like that!

Timothy Kincaid

August 18th, 2009

Adam,

Perhaps you would be happier if America banned free speech so as to preserve “decency” but most Americans find such a loss of freedom to be abhorent.

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