Uganda Government Blocks Film Depicting LGBT Human Rights Workers

Jim Burroway

December 14th, 2010

Uganda's Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo

Uganda’s Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba Buturo yesterday blocked the showing of a documentary film, claiming that organizers intended to “promote homosexuality,” according to Uganda’s largest independent newspaper Daily Monitor. Organizers had intended to show the film at the National Theatre in central Kampala, but found the theater locked when they arrived for the event. The film, appropriately, portrays the difficulties that human rights workers encounter in fighting discrimination in the country.

The showing was organized by the United Nation Human Rights office of the High Commissioner (UNHR), Uganda Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Centre Uganda. The Uganda Human Rights Commission is an official office of the Ugandan government.

The point of contention is that the film specifically depicted the difficulties in dealing with anti-gay discrimination in Uganda. Buturo took this as being “promotion of homosexuality”:

Mr Buturo told Daily Monitor that the organisers refused to delete homosexual contents in the documentary. “Some people are determined to change the morals of our country and are using all tactics. We shall put up resistance because Uganda doesn’t believe in homosexuality,” he said, adding that 40 pupils were invited to watch the documentary.

“This is terrible. I told those people to shut up because they are supposed to defend our country,” Mr Buturo said.

Buturo strongly supports the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament. The bill, more famously, provides for the death penalty for LGBT people under certain circumstances and life imprisonment for the rest. If the bill becomes law, another provision would hold the organizers personally liable with fines and imprisonment for five to seven years for trying to show the film.

Buturo's letter demanding the cancellation of a conference to discuss issues affecting sex workers (click to enlarge).

Last month, Buturo ordered a halt to a conference in Entebbe that was organized to discuss the health issues of sex workers and other problems. Noting that prostitution is illegal in Uganda, Buturo apparently seeks to broaden the reach of the law to also include merely discussing issues surrounding prostitution.

Last September, Buturo lost his race in the ruling party’s primary election to represent the Bufumbira East constituency. He lost to former presidential advisor Eddie Kwizera Wa-Gahungu. Buturo charged that his loss was due to massive fraud, and given Uganda’s less than stellar record with elections, there is credible evidence that fraud might have been a factor. Nevertheless, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) demanded that defeated NRM M.P.’s honor the results, which Buturo has refused to do. He is now running as an independent candidate for Bufumbira East. And as we all know, when you’re down in the polls and facing enormous political odds (namely, a ruling party that won’t back you in what is effectively a one-party state), then lashing out against LGBT people is the tactic of choice among those for whom “ethics” and “integrity” have very little meaning.

Chapter 4, paragraph 29 of Uganda’s constitution (PDF: 460KB/192 pages) provides for “freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media” and the “freedom of thought, conscience and belief which shall include academic freedom in institutions of learning.” The same paragraph also guarantees “freedom to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peacefully and unarmed.” Paragraph 34 also contains an affirmative action clause which reads, “Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, the State shall take affirmative action in favour of groups marginalised on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom, for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist against them.” And Paragraph 38 guarantees that “Every Ugandan has a right to participate in peaceful activities to influence the policies of government through civic organisations.” It’s a fine document. Someone should show it to Buturo sometime.


December 14th, 2010

And as we all know, when you’re down in the polls and facing enormous political odds (namely, a ruling party that won’t back you in what is effectively a one-party state), then

… then what?

Jim Burroway

December 14th, 2010

The software for some reason truncated the post when I first tried to post this. I missed that paragraph when I attempted to fix it. It’s updated now.


December 14th, 2010

wow. blatant disrespect for human rights… coming directly from none other than the minister of ethics and integrity himself. what many ugandans might not understand is… the same human rights that lgbt ugandans and sex workers are being denied, may one day be denied wholesale. maybe then they will understand that human rights are universal and that they apply to all human beings, including… actually, *especially* …especially those human beings who for centuries have been treated as ‘less equal’ or sub-human. the set of people being pushed out to the fringes will grow as human rights violators like buturo expand their margins of discrimination. maybe then, in hindsight, ugandans will realise what was really at stake when sex workers and lgbt ugandans were being denied their human rights… and maybe then, positive change will come.

when i remember ssempa ranting in church, ‘as africans, we want to ask obama to explain to us… is this what he wants to bring to africa as a human right, to eat da poo poo of our children!?’
…and when i remember buturo declaring on human rights day, ‘there are limits to human rights, homos can forget about human rights’
…that’s when i realise just how retrogressive ugandans can be… nobody’s perfect, but uganda has a really long way to go as far as human rights are concerned (not only for its lgbt citizens)… especially at the leadership level.

so… who’s gonna help buturo understand human rights and the ugandan constitution?


December 14th, 2010

…great article!


December 14th, 2010

What is the title and director of the documentary?


December 15th, 2010

this “promotion” stuff is laughable.

right now, aren’t i promoting (this comment) the promotion (the article) of the promotion (the documentary film) of homosexuality?

and by reading this you’ve just joined the food chain… so, wouldn’t we all have fingers wagged at us for committing the heinous yet constitutionally legal crime of “promotion”?

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