August 22nd, 2010
Uganda’s Sunday Monitor this morning features a fawning profile of MP David Bahati, the who proposed the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda’s Parliament last year. That bill would have imposed the death penalty on gay people under certain circumstances, and it would have criminalized virtually anyone else who rented to or provided services for gay people. It also would have imposed a three year prison sentence on teachers, family members or other “persons of authority” who failed to report gay people to police. That bill is now stalled in Parliament.
Daily Monitor’s Mike Ssegawa asked Bahati about his anti-gay campaign:
Bahati says he has a passion for service and trying to make a difference in people’s lives and also, fighting for what he believes is right. In his words, “One of the things I do is fight for the future of our children. And that is why I fight homosexuality.” Bahati accuses the rich for trying to influence the world with their homosexuality agenda, which he calls a great threat to society and the future generation.
“This habit is learned and can be unlearned,” he adds, quoting the Bible: “Homosexuality is an abomination punishable by death.” When I asked him how, as a Christian, he can advocate for a death penalty, he replied, “It is in Leviticus. Go and read – the penalty for homosexuality is death.”
However, he says the Bill has not been passed yet and whoever is concerned about the death clause should change it, but believes there is nothing more important than keeping Ugandan children morally upright.
Sometime back, there were reports that Bahati would be denied visas to some countries if the bill passed. But the legislator says he has heard no such thing. “I don’t know – but if that is the price I have to pay, I would rather stay here and keep our children safe, for I am comfortable and happy to be involved in this cause.”
Bahati undoubtedly was reinforced in his belief that homosexuality is a “habit” that “is learned and can be unlearned” from the March 2009 conference put on by three American anti-gay activists. Two of those activists, International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge and Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, reportedly met with several unnamed members of Parliament following the conference. One month later, Parliament approved a motion to draw up a draft of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. An early draft, dated April 20, began circulating a short time later.
Emblematic of the misinformation that Bahati has consistently deployed about what the Anti-Homosexuality would do if passed into law, Sunday Monitor incorrectly describes the death penalty as being reserved “for gays who lure the underage into the vice or infect one with HIV/Aids.” In fact, the actual death penalty portion of the bill goes much further:
3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the
(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;
(b) offender is a person living with HIV;
(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;
(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;
(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;
(f) offender is a serial offender, or
(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,
(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.
(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.
Clause 3. (1) (b) was often cited to support the claim that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would impose the death penalty for the “deliberate” spread of HIV, but it is important to note that the bill contains no requirement that the intent be deliberate at all. In fact, the third subclause would suggest that the death penalty would apply upon receiving a positive serostatus result from an HIV test, which might very well be the first time the charged individual would know he or she was HIV-positive. Alternately, if the accused already knew he was HIV-positive, the proposed bill provides no acknowledgment that the accused’s partner may have known about it and entered into a consensual relationship.
Clause 3. (1) (a) includes a prohibition against sex with a minor, but as you can see, the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” goes much further than infecting someone with HIV/AIDS or “luring the underage.” Clause 3.(1) (e), which prohibits sex with a “person with disability,” assumes that a disabled person — perhaps someone who is deaf, blind or in a wheelchair, for example — is unable to provide consent. Nowhere in the bill does it suggest that proof that the individual did not consent is needed.
And then of course, there’s the problem with 3. (1) (f), where the “offender is a serial offender.” That could mean anyone who has ever had more than one partner, or anyone who has had sex with his or her partner more than once. And as Rob Tisinai demonstrated, the bill is so badly written that the death penalty for the “serial offender” is so poorly written, just about anyone can be convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.”
Ironically, Bahati says he draws inspiration from Nelson Mandela for his work in reconciliation and conflict resolution. Ironic, because it was under Mandela’s leadership that South Africa moved vigorously to dismantle state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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