Clause By Clause With Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill
February 22nd, 2012
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.
The memorandum which serves as the preamble to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill makes clear that one of the aims of the bill is to prohibit “the promotion or recognition of such sexual relations in public institutions and other places through or with the support of any Government entity in Uganda or any non governmental organization inside or outside the country.” Clause 13 is where the bill tries to achieve that aim:
13. Promotion of homosexuality.
(1) A person who –
(a) participates in production, procuring, marketing, broadcasting, disseminating, publishing pornographic materials for purposes of promoting homosexuality;
(b) funds or sponsors homosexuality or other related activities;
(c) offers premises and other related fixed or movable assets for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality;
(d) uses electronic devices which include internet, films, mobile phones for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality and;
(e) who acts as an accomplice or attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices;
commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a line of five thousand currency points or imprisonment of a minimum of five years and a maximum of seven years or both fine and imprisonment.
(2) Where the offender is a corporate body or a business or an association or a non-governmental organization, on conviction its certificate of registration shall be cancelled and the director or proprietor or promoter shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.
This bill would thoroughly outlaw any and all advocacy on gay rights in Uganda. Subclause 1.a speaks of “pornographic materials,” implying a limited scope of the bill. But in reality, even the most innocuous depictions or descriptions of LGBT people have been condemned as “pornographic.” The remaining clauses have no similar pretense of restraint. Sublcause 1.b prohibits all funding for LGBT advocacy, 1.c prohibits any property or assets from being used for LGBT advocacy, and 1.d prohibits all electronic media, including the Internet, Emails, SMS text messages, YouTube videos and anything else you can think of that can be used to argue for LGBT rights. This clause bans everything: blog posts, Facebook status updates, even a 140-character Tweet can land the Tweeter in prison for up to seven years.
And in case the bill’s authors forgot anything, subclause 1.e is there as a catch-all for any other possible avenues for advocating on behalf of gay people. This covers any kind of advocacy including, potentially, legal defense for anyone charged under this bill, and even any future parliamentary debate over whether sections of this bill should be amended or repealed. In fact, this clause is redundant with Clause 7 which prohibits “Aiding and Abetting” homosexuality (which the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended deleting in favor of this clause). Which means that all of the dangers that Clause 7 poses to lawyers, health care workers, counsellors, pastors — even beauticians (is making a gay person attractive “aiding and abetting” homosexuality?) — apply to this clause as well.
Subclause 1 provides a sentence of five to seven years imprisonment for an individual, and a fine of 100 million shillings, or about US$42,500 in a country where the per capita annual income is about US$500. Businesses, non-profits and NGO’s aren’t exempt either; the law shuts them down and imprisons their directors or owners for seven years.
In a human rights forum discussing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill held at Makarere University in 2009, law professor Sylvia Tamale describes just some of the dangers Clause 13 poses:
Clause 13 which attempts to outlaw the “Promotion of Homosexuality” is very problematic as it introduces widespread censorship and undermines fundamental freedoms such as the rights to free speech, expression, association and assembly. Under this provision an unscrupulous person aspiring to unseat a member of parliament can easily send the incumbent MP unsolicited material via e-mail or text messaging, implicating the latter as one “promoting homosexuality.” After being framed in that way, it will be very difficult for the victim to shake free of the “stigma.” Secondly, by criminalizing the “funding and sponsoring of homosexuality and related activities,” the bill deals a major blow to Uganda’s public health policies and efforts. Take for example, the Most At Risk Populations’ Initiative (MARPI) introduced by the Ministry of Health in 2008, which targets specific populations in a comprehensive manner to curb the HIV/AIDS scourge. If this bill becomes law, health practitioners as well as those that have put money into this exemplary initiative will automatically be liable to imprisonment for seven years! The clause further undermines civil society activities by threatening the fundamental rights of NGOs and the use of intimidating tactics to shackle their directors and managers.
In addition to the likelihood that Clause 13 could be abused for criminal or political purposes, the provisions in Clause 13 violate Uganda’s constitution (PDF: 460KB/192 pages), which under Chapter 4, Article 29, (Pages 41-42) include:
29. Protection of freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association.
(1) Every person shall have the right to—
(a) freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media;
(b) freedom of thought, conscience and belief which shall include academic freedom in institutions of learning;
(c) freedom to practise any religion and manifest such practice which shall include the right to belong to and participate in the practices of any religious body or organisation in a manner consistent with this Constitution;
(d) freedom to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peacefully and unarmed and to petition; and
(e) freedom of association which shall include the freedom to form and join associations or unions, including trade unions and political and other civic organisations.
The adoption of this clause would make a mockery of Uganda’s constitution. Nevertheless, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended retaining Clause 13 in its entirety in the closing days of the Eighth Parliament, and it remained as part of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it was reintroduced into the Ninth Parliament.
In the film The Silence of the Lambs, the evil Hannibal Lecter asked detective Clarice Starling what her most painful memory was. She replied with a story about living on a relative’s farm near a slaughterhouse where she tried unsuccessfully to rescue one of the lambs. She was haunted by the screaming the lambs made as they were being slaughtered. Lecter later asks Starling, “Tell me, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?” This clause, as part of a bill designed to legislate LGBT people out of existence, will ensure that no one is allowed to hear them scream.
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
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.
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.
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.
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"
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.