Vanity Fair: Uganda Parliament To Discuss Anti-Gay Bill This Week

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2010

Alexis Okeowo at Vanity Fair discloses:

Though widespread international criticism, especially from the United States, derailed the bill in its original form and forced Uganda to drop its death-penalty provision, parliament is set to discreetly pass amendments that would prevent all residents and local and international non-profit organizations from “promoting,” advocating, or associating any of their activities with homosexuality.

The punishment would effectively end all health and sexuality programs geared towards gays and lesbians, allow the government to round up and punish activists at will, and make it essentially illegal for gays to exist.

“I don’t think it’s going to be withdrawn, I don’t think it’s going to stay on the shelves, I think it’s going to pass,” [LGBT Advocate Frank] Mugisha tells me bluntly and calmly as he sips from his soda at an open-air bar in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. “We know now that they’re working on something new—they want to water the bill down and raise it again in a new form.” The bill’s most controversial elements—those criminalizing sexual practices or an H.I.V./AIDS diagnosis—are being scrapped to deflect the attention of critics so that the rest of the bill can pass. Parliament, which opened in early June, will be discussing the measure this week.

This appears to confirm earlier reports suggesting that Uganda’s political leaders will try to pass portions of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill quietly and in piecemeal form so as to escape notice from critics. One report indicated that the Cabinet subcommittee tasked with examining the bill observed that Clause 13, the section outlawing “promotion of homosexuality” had “some merit.” It is this provision that health care workers point to as potentially criminalizing providing health services to LGBT people.

The fact that Parliament is expected to take up the measure again this week suggests that, despite the Cabinet’s recommendations, the bill has experienced a new lease on life. Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, recently wrote that the bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, along with his assistant, Pastor Julius Oyet, were “ecstatic at what they perceived as [American pastor Lou] Engle’s strong support of the bill.” Their ecstasy was stoked by Engle’s rally in Kampala held on May 2. Engle is on record as supporting criminalization of homosexuality, along with measures “to not allow it to be legalized, so to speak, so then it just spreads through the legal system of the nation.”

Lynn David

June 29th, 2010

If it passes I imagine we will find out if the Ugandan constitutional guarantees of free speech mean anything.

Joe in California

June 30th, 2010

Just another form of terrorism in the name of “religion”.
All aid, government and private, should be halted.

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