Clause By Clause With Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill
February 23rd, 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.
We’ve talked about Clause 14 twice before in this series. We described how the mandatory reporting clause is a threat to doctors, lawyers, social workers, pastors, and anyone else who “aids and abets” gay people (in conjunction with Clause 7) and how the law is a particular danger to landlords, friends and family members of gay people (in conjunction with Clause 11). But after having looked at the previous thirteen clauses in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, with all of the crimes and all of the penalties that those clauses provide, let’s look at Clause 14 again, except this time I want to highlight something I’m not sure was noticed before (my apologies in advance to anyone who did notice what I’m about to talk about):
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.
Did you catch it? Look again: “A person in authority, who being aware of the commission of any offence under this Act…”
Discussions about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill often talk about this clause as requiring anyone who knows someone who is gay being required to report that person to the police. But that’s not what this clause says. Well, it does say that, but it also says so much more.
What it says is that if anyone learns that a doctor is treating gay people, they are required to report that doctor to police within twenty-four hours for “aiding and abetting” homosexuality in violation of Clause 7, because Clause 7 is an “offence under this Act.” If someone learns of a landlord renting to gay people or a hotel owner renting a room to gay people, then that person is required to report the landlord or hotel owner to police within twenty-four hours for violating Clause 11, another “offence under this Act.” If someone learns of someone providing a safe house to gay people on the run, then that person is required to report the sanctuary-provider to police within twenty-four hours for also violating Clause 11. If someone learns of a person making donation to a gay-rights group, then that person is required to report the donor to police within twenty-four hours for violating Clause 13. If someone learns of anyone who says that gay rights should be respected, then that person is required to report the rights advocate to police within twenty-four hours for also violating Clause 13.
And that’s in addition to the case where someone learns that somebody else touched someone else’s “any part of the body” “with anything else” “through anything” in an act which “does not necessarily culminate in intercourse,” that that person is required to report that “toucher” to police for violating Clauses 1 and 2.
And if anyone should fail to report any of these things — and much more — within twenty-four hours of learning about it, that person could be thrown in prison for three years or fined five million shillings, which is about US$2,100 in a country where the per capita annual income is about US$500.
The extend of this reporting requirement is nearly endless.
When the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee issued its recommendations in the closing days of the Eighth Parliament, they recommended deleting Clause 14, saying “The offence will create absurdities and the provision will be too hard to implement.” Absurdities indeed. The Eighth Parliament ended before the committee’s recommendation could be adopted, and when the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was re-introduced into the Ninth Parliament, it was the original bill that was reintroduced with Clause 14 intact. The bill is again in the hands of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for further consideration.
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
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