PBS Reports on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

April 6th, 2012

PBS Newhour featured the above segment last night. It doesn’t cover much new ground for regular readers here at BTB (and special kudos to PBS for correctly stating this time that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill still carries the death penalty.) The more interesting story, by far, is this blog post by Fred de Sam Lazaro describing the difficulty of trying to get anyone in the government to go on camera to talk about the bill:

How Uganda’s legislation fares this time around is anyone’s guess. As journalists “parachuting in” to cover it, our recent experience may well serve as a proxy for how the legislation — or homosexuality in general — has become a third rail nobody wants to touch.

The bill’s author, David Bahati, agreed to an interview when finally reached on his cell phone. Perhaps he just wanted to get rid of the call. He neither showed up nor answered the phone after that. The U.S. Embassy declined our request for an interview. We were able to talk to Uganda’s most prominent gay rights activist, Frank Mugisha, but you’ll find no pictures in our report of any social congregation in Uganda’s LGBT community. We were told there are no usual hangouts or clubs any more in a country where the proposed legislation would penalize not just being homosexual but also a failure to report such individuals.

Our fixer was no help. For parachute journalists like my team (producer Nikki See and cameraman Tom Adair), fixers play a critical role. Usually experienced local journalists, fixers use their connections to set up a story before you arrive — pursuing all angles and finding alternatives; a different member of Parliament in place of Bahati, for instance. Unfortunately, we arrived in Uganda to few such arrangements and no back-ups.

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