NY Times: Uganda Cabinet “Rejects” Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

May 10th, 2010

I’m still keeping the word “rejects” in quotation marks for the time being, but this marks the second independent media report indicating that Uganda’s cabinet is trying to put the kibosh on the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Saturday Monitor, Uganda’s leading independent newspaper, carried a very similar report to the New York Times indicating that the Cabinet was trying to kill off the bill. The Times’ reporter appears a bit more certain than the Monitor’s. Josh Kron quotes Adolf Mwesige, a lawmaker and chairman of the special Cabinet committee set up by President Yoweri Museveni to look into the bill:

Adolf Mwesige, a lawmaker and chairman of the special committee, said that virtually all clauses in the legislation were either unconstitutional or redundant, and that any other clauses should be placed in another bill dealing generally with sexual offenses.

“Ninety-nine percent of all the proposals in the Bahati bill have been done before,” Mr. Mwesige said. “If we proceeded, it would definitely provoke criticism, and rightly so.”

…Mr. Mwesige said he expected the full Parliament to vote down the bill within weeks. “The influence of the cabinet is very important. If it takes a decision, it must be taken seriously.”

Speaking of provoking criticism, today’s Monitor carries an op-ed by Wanume Kibedi who asserts that the greatest beneficiaries of the anti-gay bill has been Ugandan gay activists themselves. I’m sure Ugandan advocates (and especially those who have been arrested, mistreated, and even killed in the uproar) would vigorously disagree, but Kibedi (who harbors the prevelant notion in Uganda that homosexuality is a western imported vice, along with prostitution and strip clubs) senses that international outrage over the bill has had its effect:

There is also the argument that in the days of globalisation, a country cannot act or behave as if the views of other countries did not matter…

Ironically there are two categories of unintended beneficiaries of this Bill. Firstly, those who are trying to promote gay rights in Uganda, who will be able to generate more funds from overseas on the grounds that they are fighting for equal opportunities and basic human rights. Secondly those seeking political asylum in the West, who will claim that they are fleeing from homophobic harassment and persecution.

Personally I have not come across any gay individual in Uganda, male or female. They must be a tiny minority. Why crack a nut with a sledge hammer?

David C.

May 10th, 2010

There was a very telling article in the online NYT: At Front Lines, AIDS War Is Falling Apart. The dateline is (May 9, 2010) Kampala, Uganda.

The author is blunt about the story in the ground:

“So many people are being supported by America,” Ms. Kamukama, 28, says mournfully. “Can they not help me as well?”

The answer increasingly is no. Uganda is the first and most obvious example of how the war on global AIDS is falling apart.

The global recession has hit donors hard, and aid organizations that supply medicine and medical care for AIDS and other killer diseases in Africa such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles and tetanus have seen funding go flat. Such funding would have to triple just to stay even with the infection rate for AIDS alone.

Uganda is a microcosm of that: 500,000 need treatment, 200,000 are getting it, but each year, an additional 110,000 are infected.

Ugandan authorities I believe are beginning to realize that they have a real problem on their hands and they very much need the world to continue to support efforts in their country to help with the fight against a host of devastating diseases. The reality is however that the world’s donors are moving away from treatment of AIDS patients because it is too expensive.

According to the Uganda AIDS Commission, the lifetime bill for treating one Ugandan AIDS patient, counting drugs, tests and medical salaries, is $11,500.

Much outcry against the “kill the gays” bill has been heard coming from the United States. Even some of the US religious leaders that provoked the recent anti-gay protests and rallies in Uganda are backpedaling. It matters what people in the US think, and the Ugandan government knows it is playing a dangerous game of chicken.

American taxpayers have been particularly generous to Uganda, paying for 88 percent of its drugs; Ugandans know it.

Uganda cannot afford to alienate the world that it so desperately depends on for aid. All of those here in the US and elsewhere in the world that have been calling for Uganda to be “cut off” from aid if the country should decide to pass the “kill the gays bill” have in a way been heard. It is not that alone, but any erosion or negative perception of Uganda and its neighbors will only make the situation worse. Smart leaders know that they need their partners in an increasingly interconnected world.

Paul in Canada

May 11th, 2010

David C: “Smart leaders know that they need their partners in an increasingly interconnected world.”

Indeed! Therein lies the crucial issue in dealing with any issue: human rights, disease prevention/treamtment, famine, environmental degredation, etc., etc.

We live in a global ‘community’ and are interdependent on one another, either directly (aid funding, research) or indirectly (disease spread through global migration). Ignoring this fact is tantamount to ‘suicide’, economically, culturally and literally. It really has less to do with ‘democracy’ as it does with accepting our ‘humanness’.

Unfortunately, struggling countries and western powerhouses alike often ignore the symbiotic relationship, preferring to bury their heads in ignorance or self-righteousness/ arrogance.

The sooner we realize we are ‘in this together’, the sooner we’ll find common ground and begin to find solutions.

Perhaps the Ugandan leaders are coming to their senses……

paul j stein

May 11th, 2010

The Ugandan leaders are coming to the DOLLARS and CENTS of the issue. They want the money like a PIMP wants it from the whores he lives off of. The leaders scared the “International JOHNS” away with this legislation and with them their MONEY. End of story.

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