Uganda “Kill Gays” Bill Sponsor Refuses To Budge
December 12th, 2009
As far as Ugandan Member of Parliament David Bahati is concerned, the death penalty provision will remain. He told the U.K.’s Guardian that he has no intention of modifying the Anti-Homosexuality Act that he introduced into Parliament as a private member’s bill:
He denied reports that international pressure might result in parts of the bill being toned down. “We are not going to yield to any international pressure – we cannot allow people to play with the future of our children and put aid into the game. We are not in the trade of values. We need mutual respect.”
Part of that international pressure includes a very high-profile statement by Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, who said that Christian leaders have a moral responsibility to oppose Uganda’s draconian proposal. He also said, “I oppose the criminalization of homosexuality. The freedom to make moral choices is endowed by God.” That didn’t sit well with Bahati:
Bahati said yesterday that he regretted Warren’s retreat. “It’s unfortunate that a man of God who has inspired many people across the world can give in to pressure and disappoint them.” Around 85% of Ugandans are Christian – 40% Catholics, 35% Anglican. Muslims make up 12% of the population.
Curiously, as he did with the BBC interview, Bahati tried to deflect the bill’s draconian measures by downplaying the fact that it’s an anti-gay bill — despite the name of the bill being “Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2009.” Repeating the line he told the BBC this week, Bahat told the Guardian.
“The section of the death penalty relates to defilement by an adult who is homosexual and this is consistent with the law on defilement which was passed in 2007. The whole intention is to prevent the recruitment of under-age children, which is going on in single-sex schools. We must stop the recruitment and secure the future of our children.”
As we pointed out when Bahati told the BBC the same thing, this is simply a bold-faced lie. The Anti-Homosexuality Act, which we have posted online, applies the death penalty to anyone convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” The definition of “aggravated homosexuality” includes having sex with someone under the age of eighteen. But it also includes:
- anyone who is gay and a “repeat offender” (which could include either someone who has had more than one sexual partner, or who has had sexual relations more than once with the same partner),
- and anyone who is gay and HIV-positive. In fact, the proposed legislation mandates HIV testing for anyone accused of being gay in order to determine whether that individual qualifies for the death penalty.
Bahati’s insistence that the bill will not be watered down comes amid reports that the death penalty provision might be removed. Also in the past week, two op-eds have appeared in government-controlled media calling for the proposed legislation be dropped altogether. One op-ed, in the government owned New Vision newspaper, was written by a senior adviser to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has not spoken publicly about the bill. If the bill goes forward, it is expected to be debated within the next two weeks and possibly become law by February.
Bahati and Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, who has also been a vocal supporter of the bill, plan to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. in February. It is customary for the President of the United States to speak at the Prayer Breakfast. The Prayer Breakfast is sponsored by the secretive Evangelical group known as The Family, of which Bahati and Buturo are members.
If the bill becomes law and the two show up in February, the “welcoming committee” outside the venue might provide an embarrassment to everyone associated with The Family. Airfare to D.C. tends to be rather low in February. Just sayin’.