Report: Uganda’s Cabinet “Rejects” Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

May 7th, 2010

I put the word “rejects” in quotation marks because it’s very difficult to discern whether this really represents the long-awaited death knell for Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. But this report from tomorrow’s Saturday Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, is unusually optimistic:

A committee of Cabinet has made recommendations that could end Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s proposal to have a separate law punishing homosexuality in Uganda. The recommendations, which Saturday Monitor has seen, come close to dismissing Mr Bahati’s draft legislation.

The committee, put together to advise the government after Mr Bahati’s draft legislation left Uganda condemned by sections of the international community, looked deep into the language, tone and relevance of the draft legislation, dissecting every clause to determine its usefulness.

It was not clear who wrote the draft legislation, the committee’s report says, noting that the document had “technical defects in form and content”. The result left the draft legislation almost bare, as nearly all of the clauses were found either redundant, repetitive of existing laws, or even useless. In fact, the committee found that only “Clause 13″ of the draft legislation, about the promotion of homosexuality, had some merit.

…”The Anti-Homosexuality Bill should be reviewed since some provisions of the Constitution were not followed in the process of drafting and that, therefore, it was illegally before Parliament,” the report says, adding that “some sections of the Penal Code Act could be amended to include some good provisions” of the draft law. This kind of amendment, the committee’s report says, is the preferable option.

The suggestion that advocacy of homosexuality could still be outlawed (“Clause 13”) remains troublesome. The draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s ban on “promoting homosexuality” is far-reaching. Not only would it criminalize pro-LGBT speech and advocacy, it would also hinder medical workers, since providing advice on safe-sex practices to reduce the chance of becoming infected with HIV, for example, could be seen as “promoting homosexuality.”

This appears to be further revelations from a Cabinet report first reported by Monitor two weeks ago. That report seemed to indicate that the Cabinet was interested in moving unspecified provisions of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into other legislation and pass them on the slight. This report suggests that the bill would be scrapped, with the possible exception of Clause 13. Given the uncertainty of the whole situation, the ultimate fate of the LGBT community in Uganda remains a very deep concern and will continue to bear close scrutiny.

Stefano A

May 7th, 2010

One “take away” I got from this is a high likelihood of the passage of a Lithuania-like (but stricter) “Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information”.

In addition to simply amending existing bills to incorporate the draconian aspects of Bahati’s bill rather than leaving it as a stand alone (or new) bill.

In other words, my expectation is that not much will improve and am waiting to see the actual amount of damage they’re committed to creating.

anteros

May 7th, 2010

i’ve noticed a strange dichotomy while observing how ugandans discuss the anti-homosexuality bill and homosexuality in general. those who don’t express strong anti-gay views are often accused of “promoting homosexuality” (not yet a crime, but that’s what it might become). those who understood and attempted to explain how the bill would violate human rights would have to sandwich their human rights perspective with mild anti-gay statements as a disclaimer… like, “i’m not gay and i believe that homosexuality is wrong/repugnant/evil/a sin/an abomination/against god/unafrican, BUT ”

those opposing the bill would have to tiptoe their way around being accused of promoting homosexuality, being “pro-gay” or receiving pink dollars from the western-based multi-billion dollar neo-colonialist Gay International Organisation floating somewhere up in the sky, drizzling big bucks on those willing to oppose the bill, promote homosexuality or recruit kids.

i saw the contents of the “teenager’s toolkit” publication from unicef… it advised teens struggling with same sex attractions not to freak out and advised peers to be compassionate towards those struggling with same sex attractions… stuff like that got unicef accused of “promoting homosexuality” in schools.

as pointed out in the article, outlawing “the promotion of homosexuality” would present a major setback in that country’s HIV/AIDS response.

entering a gay chatroom, setting up a profile on a gay personals website, sending a text message to your same gender significant other, purchasing will & grace dvds, joining an LGBT facebook group, a pride flag on your bumper, or posting comments on LGBT websites… any of those actions could get you 5 to 7 years for “promoting homosexuality”.

“promoting homosexuality” is extremely broad and breaches freedom of speech, and or the right to privacy. dunno about freedom of speech in uganda, but the right to privacy is in the ugandan constitution.

while this development is very welcome – it’s much better than passing that horrible bill as it was written… call me pushy or ungrateful, but i’m sorry… this isn’t good enough.

these guys wanna imprison people over “promoting homosexuality” because they know that as long as Ugandans are free to talk, discuss or debate LGBT concerns – gay rights for LGBT Ugandans will become an inevitable reality. so, in a twisted acceptance of defeat, they shut the whole thing down because they are anticipating a serious intellectual, legal, theological and international beat down in their fight against LGBT rights. that’s all they’ve got left.

clearly uganda wants and needs to be part of the global community. i think they’ve got a seat on the UN security council, we’ve all heard about ugandan oil reserves. but introducing laws against “promoting homosexuality” is so backward and auto-ostracizing in a world where openly gay people serve as big decision makers in politics, religion, development, trade etc. this, while the rest of the world debates gay marriage, anti-discrimination laws for LGBT citizens or at least decriminalization of homosexuality.

they should not be allowed to get away with this.

anteros

May 7th, 2010

years ago, a ugandan lesbian couple had their home raided by security agents in the middle of the night. they were treated really badly in detention. they took it to court and were awarded compensation. that pissed off a lot of people.

if “promoting homosexuality” were a crime, they wouldnt have access to legal assistance. lawyers wouldnt be in a hurry to help them, since court would be quick to punish those who “promote homosexuality” by defending LGBT ugandans in court… 5 to 7 years aint no joke.

ugandans need to decriminalize homosexuality and introduce laws to protect its LGBT citizens from dangerous elements in their anti-gay environment.

Paul in Canada

May 8th, 2010

International pressure must be kept to not only eliminate any possibility of any part of this draft law coming into effect, but in fact, ensure rights for LGBT are instituted in Uganda!

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