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Uganda’s Media Picks Up More Talk About Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

March 18th, 2011

Following on earlier media reports that Uganda’s Parliament may begin consideration of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill as early as next week, NTV, Uganda’s largest independent television network, has just posted this news report featuring Stephen Tashobya, Chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee:

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After the bill was introduced in October 2009 amid worldwide outrage, it was sent to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for further review and report back to Parliament. It has languished quietly in that committee since then. Now that Parliamentary elections are over and Parliament is due back to complete its lame duck session (and only maybe coincidentally while the world’s attention is consumed by events elsewhere in Japan, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen) the bill, which many news outlets erroneously reported to be dead, is again rearing its ugly head.

In this NTV report,  committee chairman Tashobya is shown saying:

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill has generated a lot of debate and interest in our population, both for and against. And we are sensitive about that interest.

So we shall put out public notices for all types of people, for even foreigners, let’s have a [unintelligible] to come and appear before the committee and have this matter resolved once and for all.

M.P. David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, responds:

I’ll be working with my colleagues to talk to other members of Parliament to ensure that this bill is debated and concluded before we close the Eighth Parliament.

We are working with religious leaders, we are working with people in the legal fraternity, we are working with parents and schools…

At this point, the NTV reporter correctly pointed out that if the bill is passed into law in its current form, the provisions barring “promoting homosexuality” would potentially punish even lawyers who defend LGBT people in court. Uganda’s legal fraternity is expected to point out that the proposed law would be completely unfair. To them.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Congress’s House Financial Services Committee passed an amendment with nearly unanimous bipartisan support which calls on the Treasury to make foreign aide contingent on developing nations’ human rights records, including how those nations treat its LGBT citizens. Rep. Barny Frank (D-MA) sponsored the amendment and singled out Uganda as an example of a country that abuses its LGBT citizens. Bahati dismissed that threat:

In my opinion, the future of our children is more important than the money we get from abroad, and the interests of Uganda are more important than the interests of foreigners. We are a soverign state, and nobody should dictate the values we should adopt in our country.

Comments

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Wendy
March 18th, 2011 | LINK

David Bahati is a liar and perpetrating a deadly fraud upon the people of Africa. Clearly he is out for no one but himself, as his dirty business deals and rhetoric shows it. The colonialists and the Church of England would be proud of him however, even if his current countrymen cannot.

The people of Uganda are not stupid, and know that his ideology that would judge their own intimacy and breach any sense of privacy is not their salvation. Bahati, Buturo and Ssempa will go down in poo-poo history.

Mihangel apYrs
March 19th, 2011 | LINK

the amount of money these kleptocracies get from the US, K and other western democracies is staggering. Cutting it (and suspending them from the Commonwealth) would hurt, albeit the poor mainly. China would probably bail them out but at the cost of their country and their (imaginary) souls

Lisa Salazar
March 19th, 2011 | LINK

We can comment like crazy about this bill, but we can flood Chairman Tashobya with letters and emails. He stated that even foreigners can be part of the discussion. So let him hear your voice.

This is his email address:
ntashobya@parliament.go.ug

Write your own letter or say something like this:

Dear Mr. Chairman Tashobya,

I appeal to you and your fellow Members of Parliament to do the honorable thing. Show the world that you have the courage to show compassion and show respect for the diversity of all of Uganda’s citizens, and not because foreign contries are calling for an aid cut to Uganda for persecuting people “on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or religious belief.”

As chairman of the Legal Committee, please ensure that Mr. Buturo and the supporters of this bill are denied this opportunity to surreptitiously get this appalling piece of legislation debated and passed.

Richard Willmer
March 20th, 2011 | LINK

Here’s my letter to Stephen Tashobya:-

To: the Honourable Stephen Tashobya

Honourable and dear sir,

The Anti-Homosexuality (‘Bahati’) Bill is a piece of legislation that threatens the lives of hundreds and possibly
thousands of Uganda’s citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation or the effects on others of their personal conduct. The proposed bill has shocked the world, and tarnished
Uganda’s image in the eyes of millions.

It seems to many across the world that punishing gay Ugandans for activities for which their straight compatriots are not punished
(e.g. private consensual sexual acts between adults) is a travesty of
‘natural justice’. Furthermore, using police and court time to hunt
down and prosecute people simply because they are in private
consensual same-sex relationships strikes many in Uganda and
beyond as a waste of precious state resources, especially at a
time of economic stringency and rising prices.

Claims that the Bill’s purpose is to ‘protect children’ are, at best,
dubious ones, designed to stir up emotion rather than promote
serious debate. Countries that allow open debate on issues of
human sexuality (something which the Bill would effectively
criminalise) often benefit from significantly lower rates of
‘defilement’ than those that do not. For example, U.K. statistics point
to a ca.40% reduction in ‘defilement’ since same-sex relationships
were decriminalised in 1967.

Whilst I appreciate that homosexuality is something of which many
Ugandans ‘don’t approve’, I am also convinced that there are many
Ugandans who disapprove deeply of any (especially systematic)
persecution of their gay compatriots.

Yours faithfully

Richard Willmer
London, UK

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