Anti-Gay Bill Likely To Pass As Oil Surpasses Donors For Influence In Uganda

Jim Burroway

December 4th, 2009

We’ve noted some of the political factors, including the influence of the American anti-gay right, behind Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act which is now before Parliament. We’ve also noted condemnations from AIDS services organizations, Canada, and Britain, as well as a warning from Sweden that passage of the draconian law will lead to a reduction of foreign aid. These warnings and condemnations however have been met with defiance from Ugandan governmental officials.

Reuters now suggests that passage of the bill is almost assured due to two factors. The first, we’ve already mentioned, is the fact that 2011 is an election year, and no Member of Parliament can be seen as being supportive of LGBT causes and hope to survive the election. The second factor — the one that contributes directly to a decline in donor influence — is oil. Foreign aid currently makes up about a third of Uganda’s budget, but with the 2006 discovery of large oil deposits along Uganda’s western border, Uganda is quickly moving to become a major oil producer. The discovery has already touched off an international scramble by oil explorers and producers to gain a foothold in the Lake Albert basin. Observers estimate that once the oil fields reach full production, some $2 billion per year could flood Uganda’s coffers based on today’s prices, which would be more than double the amount that Uganda currently receives in foreign aid.

This may help explain the defiance with which Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba Buturo dismissed warnings from Sweden over cuts to foreign aid. He told reporters at a press conference Wednesday, “If one chooses to withdraw their aid, they are free because Ugandans do not want to engage in  anal sex. We do not care.” MP David Bahati, primary sponsor of the bill, is equally defiant. “We cannot exchange our dignity for money,” he said.

Jack Kimball at Reuters suggests that while the bill is sure to pass, its final form is still unknown:

Likely changes may include modifying the death penalty to life imprisonment, altering clauses nullifying international treaties, conventions and protocols that contradict the act, and removing a section about extradition.

Even if these changes are made, the scope of the bill is still outrageous: lifetime imprisonment for homosexuality, abolition of free speech on behalf of LGBT people (seven year’s imprisonment), and the criminalization of failure to report LGBT people to police (three year’s imprisonment).

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

Thomas

December 4th, 2009

And what, again, has our “fierce advocate” Obama said @ this? Same as he said about Maine’s bigot initiative that passed: NOTHING.

Elizabeth

December 4th, 2009

Well let’s just cut them off then if they don’t really need the aid anyway.

Rob

December 4th, 2009

Uganda’s western border? That’s the Congolese border, not the most secure place on this planet. Let’s not just cut them off, but use the aid money to fund the Ugandan and Congolese rebels in order to make it impossible to reach that oil. That will get their attention.

Lynn David

December 4th, 2009

As I understand it, Rob, Uganda has been even making refugees of some of those who inhabit the oil-producing areas. That has been what has spurred on the insurgency in the north. Some of what has been alleged against Ugandan soldiers in the area is their rape of the men of the area to humiliate them.

BTW…. Tullow Oil is exploring the Lake Albert basin and is an English (UK) company. It has a partner, Heritage Oil Corp. of Calgary, Canada. Tullow has a 100% stake in one central block on the east side of the Lake Albert and a 50%/50% stake with Heritage in blocks on the northern and southern ends of the lake. Back in April, 2009, Tullow had estimated the reserves proven to be 600 million barrels of oil; but I see they’ve upped that now. Must have brought in a new well.

But (again as of April 2009) three Chinese companies were trying to get in on the play – in the blocks Tullow & Heritage now holds. Those companies are China National Petroleum, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., and China National Offshore Oil Corp. Supposedly the deal to get one of the Chinese companies in could be worth $500 million.

The last I heard, Tullow (probably along with Heritage) was on its way to getting the majority percentage of the exploration rights to the two blocks on the west side of the lake in the Congo. But that news was back in April, 2009. There had been an earlier agreement between Tullow and Uganda back in 2007; however, that was rescinded when the Congo accused Tullow of violating its borders with Ugandan military soldiers.

Relations between the Congo and Uganda worsened and there was a short border skirmish which resulted the killing of a Heritage-contracted geologist, Carl Nefdt. Late in 2007, two Heritage geologists were arrested by Congo soldiers and charged with entering the Congo illegally via Uganda. All of this led to a redrawing of the border between the Congo and Uganda. By 2008 the two countries were exchanging ambassadors.

I cannot imagine that the 80% government stake in production is true. My guess is quite a few current Ugandan politicians have their hands in Tullow’s pockets. Makes Museveni’s re-election in 2011 all the more important. And he doesn’t care on whose head he has to step on to get it done.

lurker

December 4th, 2009

how long is the life of a prisoner sentenced to “life in prison” for homosexuality in Uganda? not long, I’d bet.

Paul Halsall

December 5th, 2009

Oil does not come online that quickly. And 2011 is a over a year away.

We can work on this.

Some of us are limited by location, but here is what I posted for the local LGBT action group in the NW of England:

****Any one think we could organized a demonstration about the effort to impose the death penalty in Uganda ion Manchester. The entire aim would be to make the news, locally and in Uganda, to oppose this measure.

Targets are somewhat rare in tne NW of England, but Manchster Grammar School has an outreach to Uganda [ http://www.mgs.org/view_page.asp?link_page_id=463 ]

I think t is important to establish that we do not oppose aid to Uganda (a truly poor country), but help in this becoming a world wide embarrassment.***

UK and commonwealth groups can embarrass donors; Plus we can demo outside the Commonwealth offices.

Others can locate oil company offices.

The aim is to create a media storm.

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