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Uganda Cabinet Member Says Anti-Gay Bill May Be Withdrawn

Jim Burroway

January 7th, 2010

Uganda’s largest independent newspaper The Monitor is reporting that governmental officials are looking for a way out on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to The Monitor:

The State Minister for Investments, Mr Aston Kajara, yesterday said the government was looking at the Bill with the possibility of withdrawing it. “The government’s official position is that we have enough laws to cover homosexuality acts,” Mr Kajara said. “Government did not sponsor this Bill. It is a private member’s Bill. The government is studying it and we may talk to the honourable Member of Parliament (David Bahati) to consider withdrawing it.”

On December 11, a senior adviser to President Yoweri Museveni published an 0p-ed in the state-owned New Vision calling on Parliament to drop the bill.  At the time, we considered that a very encouraging sign, since nothing gets printed in New Vision unless it has some backing from within the government. That followed an op-ed posted just a few days earlier on the Uganda Media Centre web site, which normally operates as an official governmental clearing house for press statements. That op-ed said that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was not needed and that Parliament had other more important things to worry about.

Since then, there have been reports in outside media that others within the government were considering dropping the death penalty, but keeping other aspects of the wide-ranging and draconian bill intact. Some of those same reports were reported in Uganda’s independent press, but suggestions that the bill would be dropped have not been made publicly by members of Uganda’s government to Ugandan press. Until now, which is why this may well be a very significant development.

This doesn’t mean the bill is dead. Ardent supporters of the Bill vow a nationwide rally on January 19.  It has not been withdrawn, but it is encouraging that a member of Moseveni’s cabinet has given the government’s “official position” that the bill is not needed.

Update: Geoff Magga at Afrik.com also reports on Kajara’s statement. He also has this from Kajara, indicating that Uganda’s reputation is suffering among foreign investors:

“We are not happy with what is being said about Uganda because of the anti gay bill. Ever since the anti-gay bill was tabled, there has been outcries not only here but from allover the world against it. This is likely to affect the flow of foreign investors into the country,” Aston Kajara said.

The BBC has also picked up on the story, citing AFP as a source. But of course that is not the full story. Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsabe Buturo, who is also a member of the secretive American evangelical group known as The Family, insists that the bill will be ready for Parliamentary debate within the next three weeks.

Update: As I said, the bill is not dead. MP David Bahati, who introduced the legislation as a private member’s bill, refuses to budge.

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

Comments

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Leonardo Ricardo
January 7th, 2010 | LINK

Oh now I think I´ve got it…by George I´ve got it…they are going to let it die, save everyones face and Archbishop Orombi is going to remain focused on different issues than blasting LGBT Anglicans (at home in Uganda and worldwide)…there is a huge cloud of forgetfulness setting in on Kampala and beyond…playing Pretend ought be quite a interesting thing to watch…Orombi, no doubt, will preach more about relevant topics for the well being of Anglicans in Uganda…frankly, it´s time for him to repent, but I won´t hold my breath (he´d like that).

GreenEyedLilo
January 7th, 2010 | LINK

@ Leonardo: I’ll take it, and so, I bet, would Ugandan sexual minorities.

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R Holmes
January 8th, 2010 | LINK

Good news. Let’s hope it keeps coming.

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Steve
January 8th, 2010 | LINK

If I may entertain the absurd … Uganda considers a bill to execute, imprison, and otherwise punish gay people. Most thinking people of compassion go into an outrage at the news. So, Uganda thinks they are making it more palatable by dropping the execution/imprison/otherwise punish part and change it to requiring gay people to engage in therapy. Here’s a slice of the recent history of how gay people are marginalized into silence & invisibility. First, it’s a crime to be punished and next it’s a sickness to be treated. But they forget that reparative & conversion therapies are considered unethical because they violate the weightiest ethic of any helping profession! They violate the ethic to do no harm because they do harm & cause considerable, unnecessary suffering! It is a veiled punishment for being LGBT. Here’s their logic: we’ve decided not to kill you; we’re only going to hurt you. And they expect us to gladly accept their compromise??? My grandma used to call it “ignorance gone to seed”!

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