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Hearings Continue In Uganda’s Parliament on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

May 9th, 2011

[Update: Paul Canning alerted me to this 30-minute audio snippet from today's hearing. Beginning at the two-minute mark, the speaker describes how the bill is based upon false premises and is not supported by science:]

Warren Throckmorton has his ear to the ground on the rapidly developing situation in Uganda, where Parliament may be set to pass the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. He reported that  the Human Rights Commission, Sexual Minorities Uganda and the Coalition on Human Rights all testified against the bill during hearings today. The Associated Press reports that pastor Martin Ssempa testified again this morning, calling for the death penalty to be removed and replaced with seven year’s imprisonment. This is a remarkable backtracking from supporting lifetime imprisonment previously. Ssempa went on to call for the bill’s passage “because homosexuality is killing our society.”

LGBT Advocate and retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo also testified against the bill. He warned the committee that the bill would not make gay people suddenly disappear, but would instead turn Uganda into a police state. He also warned that the bill would result in an increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS because gay Ugandans would fear seeking treatment.

The AP also reported on the bill’s future:

Stephen Tashobya, the head of the parliament committee, said it is time legislators give the bill priority. He said a report on the bill would be ready by Tuesday and could be presented to parliament by the end of the week.

“Due to public demand the committee has decided to deal with bill,” Tashobya said. “The bill has generated a lot of interest from members of the public and members of parliament and that is why we spared some time deal with before this parliament ends.”

Parliament is due to end on May 11, although Parliament itself doesn’t constitutionally expire until the 18th. It’s not clear whether there is enough time for the bill to make it to the floor before the 11th, but Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda said that if Parliament does take up the bill, it will be almost certainly be passed. Warren Throckmorton, who is constantly updating this thread with new information as he finds it, comments on the bill’s prognosis:

Tashobya is quoted as saying he would have the report completed by tomorrow. However, he just told me a few minutes ago that he cannot promise to complete the report by tomorrow. He did say that he would complete the report before the end of Parliament which is the 18th of May. When I asked him how the Parliament could vote on a bill in this manner, he said that the Speaker (Edward Ssekandi) makes those decisions. Theoretically, the Speaker could call Parliament into session anytime before May 18 for a vote on any left over bills.

According to Tashobya, the Company bill did not pass today, and the Procurement bill was pushed to tomorrow, thus making it even more difficult for any new bills to come to the floor before Speaker Ssekandi’s end of official business date of May 11. The AHB coming to the floor appears to hinge on the completion of the committee report by Mr. Tashobya  sometime tomorrow and the Speaker’s willingness to bring it to the floor on Wednesday. If this does not happen, the Speaker would have to call the MPs together sometime during the festivities of the Presidential inauguration and the swearing in of the new Parliament on the 18th.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, if passed in its current form, would impose the death penalty for those who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender,” or whose partner is deemed “disabled” regardless of whether the relationship was consensual. It would also impose a lifetime sentence for other cases. Those provisions may be modified, although that still remains uncertain.

Even with those proposed modifications, the bill would still remain a potent threat to human rights. The bill would lower the bar for conviction, making mere “touching” for the perceived purpose of homosexual relations a criminal offense. It threatens teachers, doctors, friends, and family members with three years imprisonment if they didn’t report anyone they suspected of being gay to police within twenty-four hours. It also would broadly criminalize all advocacy of homosexuality including, conceivably, lawyers defending accused gay people in court or parliamentarians proposing changes to the law. It even threatens landlords under a “brothel” provision if they knowingly rent to gay people.

There is an AllOut petition which is now at about 40,000 signatures with a goal of 100,000 signatures by tomorrow. This will be presented at Parliament by Bishop Senyonjo tomorrow.

Comments

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enough already
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

Rack up another one for the hateful Christians.
Remind me again, please, how we are winning?

Oh, right – Africans don’t count, neither for civil or human rights. Except for Rachel Maddow and Boxturtle, nobody has really paid any attention to this.

Not in Europe, either.

Awful. Just plain awful.

And all directly the guilt of American Christians who planned and executed this.

Darina
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

Where is the “post on LiveJournal” button? :) Just kidding; I already posted a link there.

Thank you for gathering all those reports, Jim.

KZ
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

“The speaker describes how the bill is based upon false premises and is not supported by science.”

An anti-gay bill based on lies and not scientific proof? Shocking! Just shocking!!!!

Shofixti
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

For those of you struggling to make out what is going on in the clip:

This is a doctor, speaking rationally about science and health to dispell fallacies: escpecially that the bill would make criminals out of Uganda’s own Ministry of Health in relation to some of the promotion of safe sex and sexual health.

He refutes the myth of ‘recruitment’ by homosexuals. He argues against a non-innate origin of sexuality.

The bill would make homosexuals fearful of getting medical treatment because thier disclosures could criminalise them and this would have negative outcomes.

There is no discussion of G-d or religion. It has more to do with cultural identity and fear of AIDS.

paul canning
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

I can’t be certain but I think the speaker Jim refers to is actually Bishop Senyonjo.

allout petition shot over 100k in <15 hours.

HRC need to get their corporate friends with Ugandan businesses to speak out :}

enough already
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

Shofixti,
Of all the things you have said here through the last weeks, your claim that this has nothing to do with “G-D or religion” is the single most offensive statement you have ever made.

You know the history of this disaster as well as the rest of us – you have so alluded in the past.

I thought false witness was forbidden to Christians?

Jim Burroway
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

I can’t be certain but I think the speaker Jim refers to is actually Bishop Senyonjo.

I met Bishop Senyonjo last year and spoke to him at length. The voice on the audio clip does not sound at all like him. It may be someone connected with the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

Jim Burroway
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

There is no discussion of G-d or religion. It has more to do with cultural identity and fear of AIDS.

I think that is because the speaker is speaking in opposition to the bill, and is arguing against the bill itself. That audio clip is only thirty minutes of two days of testiminy. I’m sure God and religion came up elsewhere.

Shofixti
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

What Jim said. . .

Shofixti said: For those of struggling to make out what is going on in the clip: There is no discussion of G-d or religion.

All my sentences were in reference the first sentence. This can be understood by use of the colon ‘:’ .
As I may use this language device again in the future, I include this explanation.

From Wikipedia: The usage of colon varies among languages. As a rule, however, a colon informs the reader that the following proves, explains or simply provides elements of what is referred to before.

I don’t want to be seen as going off-topic, but bearing a false witness refers to the Decalogue or ten rules for normative behaviour between Israelites. It did not mandate behaviour between Jew and gentile. This was a long time before Jesus or the advent of Christianity.

Anyone in this day and age, Christian or not, should be capable of realising the ethical benefits of such things as truth under oath and academic honesty. Alternatively deception, slander and malice should be able to be seen as detrimental to rational pursuits. However, I would not begrudge someone who came to such conclusions having started at the beatitudes or the fruit of the spirit.

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