Uganda Responds To International Furor Over “Kill Gays” Bill
December 3rd, 2009
(Update: The Daily Monitor has more details on Nsaba Buturo’s statement at the government Media Centre. See below for details)
James Nsaba Buturo, Uganda’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, has issued a statement through the Ugandan government’s official Media Centre addressing criticisms over the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act. This is the bill that provides the death penalty for conviction of homosexuality under certain circumstances, provides a lifetime imprisonment for all other cases, and a seven year sentence for “attempted” homosexuality. It also criminalizes free speech on behalf of LGBT citizens (seven year’s imprisonment) and criminalizes all acquaintance of gay people (failure to report gays to police within 24 hours of learning someone is gay brings a three year prison sentence). Sweden announced that they intend to cut aid to Uganda should this bill go forward. Nsaba Buturo responds:
There is a Bill in Parliament known as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This subject is causing a great deal of interest around the world. The people of Uganda believe that practicing anal sex at the expense of heterosexual sex is not a normal practice. Ugandans know or believe that homosexuality involves practices that are dangerous and high risk to the human body which is designed for heterosexual functions. Ugandans also believe that anal sexual intercourse, foreign objects used in sexual intercourse and promiscuity do not deserve to be defended at all. Having said that, it is clear to many of us that the over reaction so far is not surprising to us. Uganda accepts that in some countries it is normal practice for men to sleep with men and women with women. It is often defended that imperatives of human rights defend this practice. We do not believe so in Uganda. Majority of Ugandans hate to see the promotion of illegalities that they consider as dysfunctional, abnormal and unhealthy.
Ever since the Bill on Homosexuality was presented in Parliament, there have been various reactions as well as over-reactions from countries which are annoyed at our independence to enact our Laws. Consequently, we hear they are threatening to take action against Uganda. It is revealing that support to Uganda literally translated means that it is on condition that Uganda should do the bidding of givers of such support regardless of what Ugandans themselves think. It is also revealing that support which would benefit countless number of orphans, children and mothers can be withdrawn simply because Government is protecting its citizens against vices such as homosexuality. Government has been clear about this matter that homosexuality or homosexual practices will not be promoted, encouraged and recommended to the people of Uganda.
Finally, on the issue of the Bill, those who are promising threats to the people of Uganda need to be helped to understand that the Bill is going through the normal democratic process of debate. The Bill is not the final document that will become Law. If there is belief that threats will influence Parliament to debate against the wishes of Uganda, those responsible for such threats should forget. We should all wait to see how Members of Parliament will acquit themselves over this matter.
It’s difficult to know how to read this statement. It is certainly a vigorous defense of Uganda’s willingness to do whatever they want against a reviled minority. But it also hints at changes in the proposed law. Whether that comes to pass is uncertain. But one thing we do know is this: they are certainly feeling the heat. The UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa, Elizabeth Mataka, was in Kampala to attend events commemorating World AIDS Day. While there, she reportedly met on Monday with MP David Bahati, the primary sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, to voice the UN’s concerns over the bill’s effects on anti-AIDS efforts. She was also expected to meet with President Yoweri Museveni.
Update: The Daily Monitor has a story about remarks Nsabe Buturo made at the government Media Centre yesterday. In response to Sweeden’s threat to withhold aid to Uganda if the bill passes, Buturo said:
“Homosexuality will not be promoted, encouraged or supported in Uganda,” Mr Buturo added.
Mr Buturo told journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala that: “We should remind them (the donors) that there is integrity to be defended and threats are not the way to go. If one chooses to withdraw their aid, they are free because Ugandans do not want to engage in anal sex. We do not care.”
…As Mr Buturo was castigating donors, the Uganda Human Rights Commission announced that it will scrutinise the Bill and make recommendations before it is debated. Commission Chairman, Mr Med Kaggwa, said the exercise will help establish whether the Bill, which has been criticised by some rights groups, violates human rights.
“What I can say is that we are human rights defenders and if they (gays) come and complain of discrimination we shall handle their cases,” he said without divulging details.
Buturo also complained of foreign aid doners publicly denouncing the Anti-Homosexuality Act. He believes that such complaints should be made in private.