AP Is Wrong: Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Still Has The Death Penalty
November 30th, 2012
The lead paragraphs in this Associated Press article states:
The Ugandan lawmaker who originally authored an anti-gay bill proposing death for some homosexual acts said Friday that a new version of the proposed legislation doesn’t contain the death penalty.
Parliamentarian David Bahati said the bill, which is expected to be voted on next month, had “moved away from the death penalty after considering all the issues that have been raised.”
“There is no death penalty,” he told The Associated Press.
And because its the AP, the lie that has been heard at least fifteen times around the world over the past three years is embarking on yet another world tour, first in the New York Times, Washington Post and Fox, and from there to local news outlets. LGBT outlets and blogs — all of which have no excuse for not knowing better — are picking it up, including Queerty and Pink News. Even Huffington Post has jumped on board to turn its erstwhile progressive pages over to Bahati’s publicist.
But despite these latest reports you’ve read — or the fifteen or more before them — the death penalty has not been removed. That can only happen when the full Parliament decides to vote on the Legal and Parliamentary Committee’s recommendation to remove the death penalty from Clause 3. And that will only stand the greatest chance of happening if the Legal and Parliamentary Committee actually recommends making that change — which its members claims was done but can’t show you the committee’s draft report because its a “secret.” Which should be a red flag the size of North Korea’s because the last time the Legal and Parliamentary Committee claimed it recommended removing the death penalty, it actually did no such thing.
What short memory spans everyone has. It was just last week when the BBC – per its usual jumping-the-gun instinct – announced that the decision to drop the death penalty was a done deal. In case you’re counting, that’s at least the third time the BBC announced the death penalty’s demise, and its third announcement proved just as wrong as the earlier two. So when an unnamed source at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala confirmed to the Washington Blade that:
…the committee can only compile a report on the bill for recommendations to the bill, and can’t make changes to it. That means the panel can’t take out the death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality,” which media sources reported was removed.
But as we’ve said repeatedly, it has never been removed. And we will never tell you that it has been removed until and unless, you know, it has been removed – which has never happened in the bill’s entire three year history. Although the bill’s supporters have done their best to try to convince you otherwise.
And by the intensity of the campaign to try to convince media outlets that it either has been dropped or will be dropped, I don’t believe it will go through Parliament without it. Maybe if they tell you the same lie for the seventeenth time, that will be the time you should believe it. But not me.
As we go forward in this process, please keep these links handy for future reference:
How a Private Member’s Bill Becomes Law In Uganda: When someone says the death penalty has been removed or any other change was made to the bill, remind yourself to ask at what stage in the process is the bill in?
Don’t Believe It Until You See It: News Reports Claim Uganda Drops Death Penalty From Anti-Gay Bill: And when someone says the death penalty has been removed or the bill was dropped, remind yourself of the many other times you’ve heard that story before.
And by the way, even if a miracle happens and the death penalty is removed at some point, there are still nineteen odious clauses of the bill, each of which, on their own, represents a serious threat to human rights in Uganda for gay and straight people alike:
Clauses 1 and 2: Anybody Can Be Gay Under the Law. The definition of what constitutes “homosexual act” is so broad that just about anyone can be convicted.
Clause 3: Anyone Can Be “Liable To Suffer Death”. And you don’t even have to be gay to be sent to the gallows. There has been talk of removing the death penalty — which has not happened yet; it’s just talk — and replacing it with a life sentence. But can anyone seriously imaging that spending a lifetime in Uganda’s notorious Luzira prison is any better? Especially once your fellow prisoners learn that you were sent there for “aggravated homosexuality”?
Clause 4: Anyone Can “Attempt to Commit Homosexuality”. All you have to do is “attempt” to “touch” “any part of of the body” “with anything else” “through anything” in an act that does “not necessarily culminate in intercourse.”
Clauses 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10: How To Get Out Of Jail Free. The bill is written to openly encourage — and even pay — one partner to turn state’s evidence against another.
Clauses 7, 11, and 14: Straight People In The Crosshairs. Did you think they only wanted to jail gay people? They’re also targeting family members, doctors, lawyers, and even landlords.
Clause 12: Till Life Imprisonment Do You Part. And if you officiate a same-sex wedding, you’ll be imprisoned for up to three years. So much for religious freedom.
Clause 13: The Silencing of the Lambs. All advocacy — including suggesting that the law might be repealed — will land you in jail. With this clause, there will be no one left to defend anyone.
Clause 14: The Requirement Isn’t To Report Just Gay People To Police. It’s To Report Everyone. Look closely: the requirement is to report anyone who has violated any the bill’s clauses.
Clauses 16 and 17: The Extra-Territorially Long Arm of Ugandan Law. Think you’re safe if you leave the country? Think again.
Clause 18: We Don’t Need No Stinking Treaties. The bill not only violates several international treaties, it also turns the Ugandan constitution on its head.
Clauses 15 and 19: The Establishment Clauses For The Ugandan Inquisition. These clauses empower the Ethics and Integrity Minister to enforce all of the bill’s provisions. He’s already gotten a head start.