Clause By Clause With Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill
February 24th, 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.
A couple of the clauses in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill are administrative:
Save for aggravated homosexuality that shall be tried by the High Court, the magistrates court shall have jurisdiction to try the other offences under this Act.
The Minister may, by statutory instrument, make regulations generally for better carrying out the provisions of this Act.
On first blush, both of these clauses look rather innocuous. Clause 15 sets out which courts will have jurisdiction over which portion of the bill. Uganda’s High Court hears the most serious cases, and Clause 1 gives it sole jurisdiction over “aggravated homosexuality” (Clause 3) which currently carries the death penalty under the proposed bill. Magistrate Courts generally sit below High Court in terms of the severity of criminal cases that they hear. As far as I know, it appears that Clause 15 is probably fairly typical given the kinds of penalties that would be under consideration.
Where Clause 15 is uninteresting, Clause 19 is something entirely alarming. Someone will be tasked to issue further regulations to ensure that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is enforced. And who is that Minister charged with that task? To find out, you will need to find the definition in Clause 1:
“Minister'” means the Minister responsible for ethics and integrity;
In the current regime, that would be Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo, a defrocked Catholic priest who last week led a group of armed guards in a raid of a hotel in Entebbe where a LGBT advocacy conference was taking place. He summarily ordered the arrest of LGBT advocate Kasha Jacqueline Nabageser, but Kasha slipped away and was able to avoid Lokodo’s thugs. If Lokodo could break up a meeting with no legal basis whatsoever, imagine the reign of terror he would engineer once he has the Anti-Homosexuality Bill with all of the opportunities for abuse it provides.
Lokodo’s predecessor, James Nsaba Buturo, also saw his office as enforcer-in-chief of Uganda’s particular brand of “ethics and integrity.” And he, like Lokodo, also saw himself as the nation’s pastor, writing lengthy op-eds in Ugandan newspapers intoning on the moral evils he saw plaguing the country. Before President Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1986 following a civil war, Buturo served in Milton Obote’s bloody regime as an enforcer who was adept at making Obote’s enemies disappear. In Museveni’s government, he wielded a softer touch, but was no less insistent in his goal of making gays disappear. While Buturo has apparently fallen out of favor with the Museveni government, having been forced to resign in early 2011, he set a pattern that Lokodo would emulate. In December 2010, Buturo banned the screening of a documentary film which depicted, in part, the work of LGBT human rights workers.
One senses that should the Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law, the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity could very well change its name to the Ugandan Inquisition. And why not? There are many parallels. An early draft of the bill included a paragraph in its accompanying memorandum extolling the virtues of ex-gay therapy. That paragraph was dropped when the bill was introduced into Parliament in 2009, but that didn’t stop the bill’s supporters to trot out a supposedly ex-gay person as a modern-day converso. And the witch-hunts which would be unleashed by Clause 14, the ban on all deviation from the Ugandan Inquisition via Clause 13, the startling ease with which someone could be put to death in Clause 3 with the High Court being put in charge of the auto-da-fé — these are the measures that TomÃ¡s de Torquemada himself would appreciate.
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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