More Wikileaks Cables on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2011

I’ve had to correct my earlier report on the Wikileaks dump of cables from the U.S. Embassy in Uganda concerning the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The original dump was not by The Guardian (UK) as I originally wrote, but by Spain’s El Pais nearly two weeks ago. The trove from El País provides more information than the two cables posted by the Guardian. It may be illuminating to consult our own extensive timeline and compare what we were reporting at the time with the contents of these cables.

For example, there’s this cable from December 21, which focused on the security and safety of local human rights advocates. Among their worries was an upcoming article which appeared in that country’s largest independent newspaper, Daily Monitor. That article featured a brave Val Kalinde, who went public with her difficulties in living in such a repressive atmosphere.

Local gay and lesbian activists pleaded with one member, Val Kalende, to reconsider a feature interview with the opposition newspaper the Daily Monitor. The Monitor ran the interview as the front page story, along with several photographs of Kalende, on December 12. Published under an anonymous byline, the article provides a striking and remarkably well-written portrait of Kalende’s struggle against rising discrimination and hatred. After describing her initial reaction to Bahati’s anti-homosexuality bill, Kalende said: “for the first time, I am very scared.” Bahati’s bill, said Kalende, “is not about homosexuality. It effects everyone; my pastor, my friends. It is not about us gays. Homosexuality is not about sodomizing young boys. What about relationships among people who are not hurting anyone?” The Monitor interview included a sidebar that dispassionately provided the facts about human homosexuality – its history and universality – and thus implicitly debunked many of the most absurd claims made by the bill’s proponents.

Another cable, dated January 28, 2010, describes a meeting between the newly-credentialed U.S. Ambassador Jerry P. Lanier and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. According to the cable, Ambassador Lanier received “an earful” from the Ugandan leader:

Museveni made it clear that Uganda will not further criminalize homosexual sex between consenting adults and that the provision on reporting homosexuals to authorities would also not go through. He suggested the entire bill could be dropped, and twice asked the Ambassador to remind Washington that “someone in Uganda”, meaning himself, is handling the matter and knows what he is doing. He also emphasized that Uganda’s main concern is alleged advocacy and recruitment of homosexuals, and that homosexuality between consenting adults has previously been quietly tolerated in Uganda.

The President twice referred to a recent local political cartoon depicting him on this issue as a puppet of Secretary Clinton, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Stephen Harper, and asked international donors to stand down to give him room to deal with the anti-homosexuality legislation in his own way. On the way out of the meeting, and in the presence of the Ambassador and Foreign Minster Kutesa only, Museveni directed Kutesa to arrange a private meeting with the Ambassador in February to further discuss the anti-homosexuality bill.

In another cable from February 11, 2010, Museveni met with a delegation of American diplomats at an African Union summit, and asked the Americans to back off a bit in their criticism:

Carson expressed gratitude that Museveni had tamped down the tensions surrounding Uganda’s draft  anti-homosexuality bill. Both Carson and Otero encouraged Museveni to pursue decriminalization and destigmatization of  homosexuality. Museveni warned outsiders of pushing Africa too hard on this issue, lest it create another hurricane, and lectured on African family values. He assured the USG delegation that nobody in Uganda would be executed for homosexual behavior, but explained that in the African context homosexuality is a disorder and not something to be promoted or celebrated. Don’t push it, warned Museveni, “I’ll handle it.”

In fact, Museveni had already worked to put the brakes on the bill’s passage, directing that it be studied by a subcabinet committee. The committee’s recommendations weren’t promising. Meanwhile, the bill itself was sent to two Parliamentary committees for further study. The bill is still in committee today, although there is talk that it may be brought to a vote sometime following tomorrow’s national elections during a lame-duck session of Parliament.

See also:
Feb 17, 2011: Wikileaks Posts Cables from US Embassy in Uganda Concerning Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Feb 17, 2011: More Wikileaks Cables on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 10, 2011: Wikileaks: Ugandan First Lady “Ultimately Behind” Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 11: 2011: More On Ugandan First Lady’s Support For Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 11, 2011: Wikileaks: Vatican Lobbied Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 12, 2011: Wikileaks on Uganda’s Homosexuality Bill: Museveni “Surprised” and Buturo “Obsessed”
Sep 12, 2011: Ugandan Presidential Aide Confirms Wikileaks Conversation
Sep 23, 2011: Ugandan First Lady Affirms Support For “Kill The Gays” Bill

gayuganda

February 19th, 2011

Hey,

We were desperate. That is why we asked so hard.

We were also aware that, with the atmosphere in Uganda, it was almost impossible to do anything that would hold the bill in check.

Thanks, dudes and all, for putting pressure on your politicians to put pressure on our politicians!

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