Anyone Can “Aid And Abet”

Clause By Clause With Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 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.

As we have seen already in just the first six clauses of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, it would be easy for anyone, gay or straight, to be caught up on charges which can bring either a lifetime prison sentence or the death penalty. Those clauses ostensibly target gay people, but the (possibly) unintended consequences of the sloppily-worded bill would also make heterosexuals vulnerable, particularly in a country where corruption is endemic. While those clauses supposedly target gay people, other clauses of the bill would target anyone, gay or straight, who would come to their aid. Like these clauses:

7. Aiding and abating (sic) homosexuality
A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.

14. Failure to disclose the offence.
A person in authority, who being aware of the commission of any offence under this Act, omits to report the offence to the relevant authorities within twenty-four hours of having first had that knowledge, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years.

The simple wording of these two clauses provides a breathtaking potential for all sorts of abuse. A straightforward reading of these clauses would leave doctors, lawyers, and other professionals vulnerable for providing services to gay people. That appears to be the precise aim of this bill, according to the British medical journal The Lancet, which reported in December of 2009 of a talk that M.P. David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, gave before a cheering audience at Makerere University in Kampala (subscription required):

Before ceding the podium, Bahati had one last point to make. “This is not a Ugandan thing”, he said, his chest swelling with indignation. “Homosexuals are using foreign aid organisations to promote this. If an organisation is found to be promoting homosexuality, then their licence should be revoked.”

Shoulder to shoulder with Bahati’s supporters a half dozen or so Ugandans listened quietly. Several were doctors who had spent much of their careers toiling against a disease that has taken the lives of more than a million Ugandans. Their faces were stoic as they contemplated the implications of Bahati’s bill for the fight against HIV/AIDS not just among gay men but also among the wives and children of men who also have sex with men. They considered the long, lean years that had been spent quietly setting up networks to disburse information on HIV/AIDS to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans.

“As a doctor, the law infuriates me”, said one general practitioner, who is much sought after by sexual minorities for his willingness to treat them, and who asked that his name not be used for fear that he would be arrested for working with sexual minorities. “We are only now getting to a point where people understand there is a problem. This law is going to erase all of that.”

It will erase all that for two reasons. Doctors who are found providing accurate safe-sex information to people who they know are gay can be held liable for “aiding and abetting” homosexuality. And gay people, understanding that Clause 14 would require doctors to report known gay people to police, would be driven underground. This is critical in the fight against AIDS. As The Lancet’s Zoe Alsop reported, in much of Africa, where AIDS is predominantly a heterosexual disease, many people, including doctors, believe that it’s impossible for gay people to become infected with HIV. This is a very different understanding than in the west.

Doctors aren’t the only professionals whose normal lines of work would make them susceptible to these two clauses. Counsellors and mental health professionals would also be susceptible, as would Lawyers who provide legal assistance or advice to gays and lesbians. Even pastors, whether they be pro-gay, anti-gay or neutral, could also find themselves held liable under these clauses.

But the dangers that these two clauses pose go way beyond the professions. Ordinary people who come in contact with LGBT people — whether they be friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, employers or neighbors — through ordinary kindnesses, accommodations, mutual aid and support, can be seen as “aiding and abetting” homosexuality. And they, too, could face imprisonment if they fail to report their gay friends, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, co-workers, employees, or neighbors to police within twenty-four hours of finding out about that person’s sexuality.

The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, which reviewed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill during the closing days of the Eighth Parliament, recommended that Clause 7 against “aiding and abetting homosexuality” be deleted because, the committee said, it was covered by Clause 13 prohibiting the “promotion of homosexuality.” (We will examine that clause later.) As for Clause 14 requiring everyone to report gay people to police within twenty-four hours, the committee also recommended its deletion, saying “The offence will create absurdities and the provision will be too hard to implement.” The Eighth Parliament ended before the Committee’s recommendations could be accepted in a floor vote. The original bill, which was reintroduced into the Ninth Parliament, is back in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for further consideration. And with it, these two clauses are still being considered as well.

(Because Clause 14 is so breathtaking in its scope, I will discuss it further in a later installment.)

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


February 16th, 2012

The law is tailor-made for eliminating non-LGBT political opponents or economic competitors under the pretense of law. This practice already happens, but the proposed law would make it much easier to get away with this form of dirty politics.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts


Another Temporary Hiatus

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1971: Minnesota Couple Stake Claim To First American Same-Sex Marriage

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1954: "Perverts Vanish" From Miami

Born On This Day, 1907: Evelyn Hooker

Born On This Day, 1925: Fr. John J. McNeill

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.