Anyone Can Be A Victim (And Get Out Of Jail Free If You Act Fast)

Clause By Clause With Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

February 15th, 2012

The proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009, as published in the official Uganda Gazette on September 25, 2009.

The proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009. (Click to download, PDF: 847KB/16 pages)

Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been re-introduced into Parliament and is currently in the hands of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. As the Committee considers what to do with the bill, there has been considerable confusion over what would happen if the bill were to become law. Most of the attention has focused on the bill’s death penalty provision, but even if it were removed, the bill’s other seventeen clauses would still represent a barbaric regression for Uganda’s human rights record. In this series, we will examine the original text of bill’s eighteen clauses to uncover exactly what it includes in its present form.

If you’ve been paying attention to the clauses we’ve examined so far, you may have noticed that the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill tries to divide the gay world between aggressors and victims. Clauses 5 and 6 detail how “victims” are to be treated under the law:

5. Protection, assistance and payment of compensation to victims of homosexuality.
(1 ) A victim of homosexuality shall not be penalized for any crime commuted as a direct result of his or her involvement in homosexuality.

(2) A victim of homosexuality shall be assisted to enable his or her views and concerns to be presented and considered at the appropriate stages of the criminal proceedings.

(3) Where a person is convicted of homosexuality or aggravated homosexuality under sections 2 and 3 of this Act, the court may, in addition to any sentence imposed on the offender, order that the victim of the offence be paid compensation by the offender for any physical, sexual or psychological harm caused to the victim by the offence.

(4) The amount of compensation shall be determined by the court and the court shall take into account the extent of harm suffered by the victim of the offence. the degree of force used by the offender and medical and other expenses incurred by the victim as a result of the offence.

6. Confidentiality.
(1) At any stage of the Investigation or trial of an offence under this Act, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judicial officers and medical practitioners, as well as parties to the case, shall recognize the right to privacy of the victim.

(2) For the purpose of subsection (1), in cases involving children and other cases where the court considers it appropriate. proceedings of the court shall be conducted in camera, outside the presence of the media.

(3) Any editor or publisher, reporter or columnist in case of printed materials. announcer or producer in case of television and radio, producer or director of a film to case of the movie industry, or any person utilizing trimedia facilities or information technology who publishes or causes the publicity of the names and personal circumstances or any other information tending to establish the victim’s identity without authority of court commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty currency points.

(Note: 1 currency point is 20,000 Ugandan shillings, or about US$8.60)

From the very first statement of clause 5, it becomes immediately obvious that this is a huge get-out-of-jail free card for anyone who is caught in the act of same-sex relations (or, as we have pointed out before, perhaps simply in the act of “touching” “any part of of the body” “with anything else”  “through anything” in an act that “does not necessarily culminate in intercourse”) and quick enough to be the first to claim that he or she is a “victim.” Say, for example, if police should burst into your bedroom while you are there with another person of the same sex, and you are caught red-handed being handled “through anything” in an act that “does not necessarily culminate in intercourse,” all you have to do is claim to be the victim, that the other person made you do it, and right away you are free from prosecution.

Not only that, but they’ll help you testify in trial that, yep, sure enough, you were the victim, not the perpetrator. Not only will you escape a lifetime in prison — or even the hangman’s noose — but you will be awarded compensation for all of your trouble.

In other words, this provision is an open invitation for anyone to try to escape serious trouble by claiming to be a victim in the whole mess, no matter how much consent or how little actual sex took place. And come to think of it, these clauses are more than just open invitations, they practically beg one partner to rat out the other, and through the compensation clause, the law will literally pay them for doing so. And the bill offers the perfect escape hatch for the quick-witted or the well-connected: no one even needs to know that you were involved because the confidentially clause will ensure that your name stays out of the papers and television.

Bribe-taking throughout Uganda’s police and legal system is notorious, and the opportunities are rife for these two clauses to be abused in order to secure a conviction — as well as to let off scott-free anyone who may be in a privileged position to bribe or otherwise convince prosecutors into determining that they were the “victims.”

Clause By Clause With Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
Clauses 1 and 2: Anybody Can Be Gay
Clause 3: Anyone Can Be “Liable To Suffer Death”
Clause 4: Anyone Can “Attempt to Commit Homosexuality”
Clauses 5 and 6: Anyone Can Be A Victim (And Get Out Of Jail Free If You Act Fast)
Clauses 7 and 14: Anyone Can “Aid And Abet”
Clauses 8 to 10: A Handy Menu For “Victims” To Choose From
Clauses 11, 14, 16 and 17: Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide
Clause 12: Till Life Imprisonment Do You Part
Clause 13: The Silencing of the Lambs
Clause 14: The Requirement Isn’t Only To Report Gay People To Police. It’s To Report Everyone.
Clauses 15 and 19: The Establishment Clauses For The Ugandan Inquisition

MattNYC

February 15th, 2012

Amazing. I think someone on the drafting is channeling Roy Cohn…

Theo

February 15th, 2012

Further to my comment of a few days ago, I ask that BTB use its platform to turn the pressure on the Obama Administration to commit to specific economic and military sanctions in the event that this passes.

It is pathetic that the only people focusing on this are the people who are hiding in basements in Uganda:

http://bikyamasr.com/57261/gay-activist-in-hiding-wants-donors-to-rethink-uganda/

Theo

February 15th, 2012

And to be a bit more specific about what I would hope to see happen, I think this dire situation merits a gay blogswarm. Let’s get BTB, Joe Jervis, John Aravosis, Jeremy Hooper, PHB and the rest of the scooby gang together and focus a demand on the White House for a commitment to impose sanctions if this genocidal bill passes.

This isn’t a big ask. Uganda is neither a strategically important country nor one with a significant domestic constituency in the US. A commitment to implement sanctions would be nothing more than the Administration’s living up to its announced policy on human rights. The White House can make this commitment without any sign-off from the GOP.

This should be low hanging fruit. Frankly, it should have been a demand at the $35,800/plate dinner attended by the gay A-list this week. Too bad that the no one thought to do that amidst the fine dining and lighthearted badinage.

I love BTB’s coverage of this and other issues. As usual, you are more in-depth than anyone else. But I’d rather see BTB help prevent a catastrophe rather than catalogue its features in detail.

Chuck Mielke

February 15th, 2012

Further, typical of historical witch hunts, “victim” status grants any citizen the license to entrap homosexuals. As explained above, the technique would be easy to employ: arrange a liaison with a homosexual, advise the authorities of the where and when, then cry “victim” at the appropriate moment. From a social science research pov, this will be a fascinating experiment, if the law passes: the opportunity to see a full-fledged witch hunt unfold in real time. Fortunately, humanitarianism trumps research and we must prevent this travesty from happening.

Timothy Kincaid

February 15th, 2012

Theo,

I commend your fire and zeal but – in no small way – BTB has been preventing a catastrophe. For three years, now.

Not alone, of course. Along the way we found ourselves in alliance on this issue with people we never would have expected or even dreamed. And while we cannot assert that the statements from the White House and the State Department are a direct result of our endeavor, it is also true that the role we played provided a foundation for this issue to be more broadly publicized and for concern to be expressed to the Administration.

There is still great danger. The Ugandan LGBT population is still at risk – in some ways more so – and the situation could turn for worse at any time. So we continue to write. We continue to monitor. We continue to correct the misinformation that is spread by careless mainstream “reporters”.

But things are not the same. The consequences and repercussions of anti-gay legislation in Uganda are significantly different than they were in February 2009 when we began this effort. Ugandan politicians are well aware that Europe and the United States are watching this bill specifically and that what they do will impact the future of that nation.

Clearly you have a passion and concern for the Ugandan people. I recommend that, to better understand the context of our coverage of the situation in Uganda and why things are where they are today, you read the past three years of Uganda commentary here.

Blake

February 16th, 2012

This clause reveals what is really at the heart of the bill. How long have we heard stories of gay predators backed by western largess corrupting the youth in Uganda? Yet, when asked directly, the anti-gays can only offer scant evidence of the actual perps. Outside of the occasionally cowered gay man ‘switching sides’ to save his own skin, they’re left grasping at straws. Should this bill pass with this clause intact it will instantly create a mechanism for identifying a group of ‘predators.’

Every successful conviction under this law will allow an opportunity to ‘expose’ another predator. Eventually they’ll be able to point to countless cases where there was a ‘victim’ and a ‘perp.’ Once they have enough predators locked up it will be easy to make it politically impossible for the head of state to oppose stricter penalties against gay folks.

This is a dangerously self-fulfilling clause. This clause, even without the death penalty, will spell ruin for gay people in Uganda.

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