Don’t Believe It Until You See It: News Reports Claim Uganda Drops Death Penalty From Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

November 23rd, 2012

We’ve seen this before. News reports are emerging that the Ugandan Parliament’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has “dropped” the death penalty from the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, exchanging it for life imprisonment for those charged with “aggravated homosexuality” — which could be just about anyone, given the overly-broad wording of the bill’s clauses. What’s distressing is that mainstream and LGBT journalists are picking it up despite Ugandan politicians stressing that they can’t release the committee’s draft recommendations to the public, so all we have are Ugandan politicians’ word for it. The BBC has bungled the story several times before; you’d think they’d be more cautious. I can’t tell you how many times there have been pronouncements that the death penalty was dropped only to find out that it was still in the bill. But I’ll try:

  • December 9, 2009, Bloomberg reported that the death penalty would be dropped in exchange for forcing people into ex-gay conversion therapy. That quickly proved to be false.
  • The next day, M.P. David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, told the BBC, “There has been a distortion in the media that we are providing death for gays. That is not true.” Of course, Bahati’s words themsevlves were not true, but the BBC refused to challenge him.
  • On January 7, 2010, President Yoweri Museveni told Parliament to drop the death penalty. When Museveni spoke, we thought it was as good as a done deal. A Cabinet member also came forward to say that the bill would be withdrawn. It wasn’t. That same day, the Associated Press misquoted Ugandan LGBT-advocate Frank Mugisha as saying that if the death penalty were dropped, everything would be honkey-dorey. Of course, he said no such thing.
  • On January 10, 2010, Scott Lively, one of three anti-gay Americans who put on a horrific conference in Kampala in March 2009 which set the stage for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, joined his voice to the propaganda machinery by announcing his endorsement of the “revised” bill dropping the death penalty, even though the bill was never revised.
  • On January 22, 2010, A special Cabinet committee reached a non-compromise “compromise” which reportedly removed the death penalty from the bill. The recommendation was never acted upon.
  • On February 5, 2010, the BBC reported that the death penalty would be dropped. By then we were urging everyone to view such reports with skepticism.
  • On April 26, 2011, after the bill laid dormant for nearly a year, Bahati began urging that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill be passed before the Eighth Parliament came to an end in May. He re-issued his “concession” that he would consider dropping the death penalty from the bill if it would help to move the bill forward. If nothing else, that “concession” is at least tacit confirmation that all of the prior statements about the death penalty being dropped were false. Nevertheless, the Associated Press quickly announced that the death penalty had been dropped. Again.
  • On May 11, 2011. The Los Angeles Times jumped onto the bandwagon and announced that the death penalty had been dropped. Again, it hadn’t. The very next day, Human Rights Watch learned that the death penalty had, in fact, not been dropped. It had been merely substituted with wording which referred to a separate part of the Ugandan Penal Code, to a section which provided the death penalty. Only those who knew what Section 129 was would understand that the death penalty was still in the bill.
  • On May 22, 2011, after the Eight Parliament ended without voting on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Bahati vowed to reintroduce the bill into the Ninth Parliament. He also repeated the false claim that the death penalty had been removed.
  • On February 7, 2012, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was reintroduced in Parliament, with the same wording as the original 2009 bill with the death penalty.
  • On February 8, 2012, the BBC false reported, again, that the death penalty had been dropped from the bill.
  • On February 9, 2012, the Associated Press, The Advocate, and The Washington Post all reported that the death penalty had been dropped. It hadn’t.
  • On February 24, 2012, PBS reported, wrongly, that the death penalty had been dropped. (On April 5, they got it right when they reported on the anti0gay bill on Newshour.)
  • On June 12, 2012, M.P. David Bahati again falsely claimed that the death penalty had been removed from the re-introduced bill.
  • On June 22, 2012, the Associated Press claimed that the entire bill had been “shelved.” Boy were they wrong.

That’s not an exhaustive list. That’s just what I was able to find quickly this morning.

So now we have fresh reports that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has again “dropped” the death penalty from its recommendations to Parliament, the same announcement that they made before when their tried to pull their death-by-stealth move in May 2011. But this time, they say that they can’t release the draft of their recommendations before Parliament because, you know, it’s a “secret.” Gotta follow the rules, you know. But despite this track record, the BBC and Pink News are confidently reporting that the death penalty has been dropped. Journalists with very short attention spans might believe it, but I don’t. And neither should you until we can all see it in writing — and the recomendation is adopted by the full Parliament. Nothing gets dropped until that vote takes place, and it hasn’t happened yet.

 

Regan DuCasse

November 23rd, 2012

This isn’t good enough. Homosexuality should be decriminalized around the world, period.
When certain countries ignore the success of gay citizens where decriminalization is in effect, they make themselves look like intractable barbarians.
Not people committed to any form of gov’t that respects it’s citizens.
Especially if they are women and/or gay.

Bill T.

November 23rd, 2012

Pam Spaulding has an article posted on Firedoglake that the death penalty has been dropped from the Ugandan anti-gay bill. Someone should inform her otherwise.

Bill T.

November 23rd, 2012

A quick check of Pam’s article shows an update from Jim. Sorry about posting a comment so quickly. I should have checked first. My bad.

Darina

November 23rd, 2012

This is just to let you know that I appreciate your reporting, Jim.

Michael Ditto

November 24th, 2012

Metro Weekly cited a tweet from Frank Mugisha as confirming the death penalty had been removed from the bill.
https://twitter.com/frankmugisha/status/272264340026052609

anteros

November 24th, 2012

Thanks Jim!

Texas Aggie

November 24th, 2012

While people are ecstatic that the death penalty may be removed, we should be asking why this bill exists at all, and when will it be removed in its entirety?

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)
(Required, never shared)

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

 

Latest Posts

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

Today In History, 1895: Oscar Wilde Enters Bankruptcy

This Month In History, 1919: A Plea From An Invert

Born On This Day, 1966: Sean Patrick Maloney

Orlando-Area Republicans Back LGBT Protections

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

Emphasis Mine

This Month In History, 1958: "My Daughter Is a Lesbian!"

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.