U.S. To Announce Sanctions Against Uganda

Jim Burroway

March 24th, 2014

Key members of Congress were reportedly briefed yesterday on the Obama Administrations plans to curtail or redirect U.S. aid to Uganda in response to Yoweri Museveni’s signing the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law. According to Buzzfeed, the Administration has settled on four specific steps:

Money will be shifted away from the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, a group that has publicly come out in support of the anti-gay law and has received millions of dollars in grants from the United States to help fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Some $2.3 million will continue to go to the IRCU to continue treatment for some 50,000 current patients, but an additional $6.4 million intended for the IRCU will go to other organizations.

The Inter-Religious Council is a coalition of Ugandan Roman Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Christian Orthodox and Seventh-Day Adventist faith leaders. When the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first proposed in Parliament in 2009, the Inter-Religious Council debated the bill and many of its members gave it their full backing, although many questioned the death penalty provision in the original bill. But by the following spring, the Inter-Religious Council softened its support somewhat. Two weeks ago, the Inter-Religious Council defended the aims of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, while also calling on the government to revisit the legislation and asked that for a dialogue “with the donor community on the looming suspension of aid to our country.”

The remaining three steps the Obama Administration will take include:

Second, because the law makes “promoting homosexuality” illegal, a U.S. funded study to help identify populations at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS has been suspended. The study, which was going to be conducted by a Ugandan university and the Center for Disease Control, has been suspended out of fear that both staff and survey respondents could be put in danger.

Third, because any LGBT person or LGBT ally who now enters Uganda is at risk, money intended for tourism programs will be redirected. “Therefore, approximately $3 million in funding designated for tourism and biodiversity promotion will be redirected to NGOs working on biodiversity protection,” (National Security Council spokesman Jonathan) Lalley said.

And finally, the Department of Defense had several events scheduled in the country later this spring and those will be moved to other locations. “Certain near-term invitational travel” for Ugandan military and police personnel has also been suspended or canceled.

Norway, Demark, the Netherlands, which collectively had provided $27 million in aid to Uganda, have already announced their aid cuts aid to the Ugandan government. Sweden has cut just a little over $1 million in direct government-to-government aid, but was continuing to provide aid to non-governmental programs. Last month, the World Bank said it was delaying a $90 million loan to Uganda’s health service.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act provides for a lifetime sentence for those who are convicted of homosexuality. It also imposes a lifetime sentence for those who are convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” which include “serial offenders”  of  homosexuality “or related offences.” Related offenses include lifetime imprisonment for entering into a same-sex marriage, seven years for conducting one, five to seven years for advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people, five years for providing housing to LGBT people, and seven years for providing services to LGBT people. The Act also provides for the extradition of any “person charged with an offence under this Act.”

A coalition of Ugandan human rights activists are currently challenging the Anti-Homosexuality Act before the country’s Constitutional Court.


March 24th, 2014

“…five years for providing housing to LGBT people, and seven years for providing services to LGBT people.”

I don’t see how the Act criminalizes providing housing or services generally to LGBT people.

For one thing, I don’t think the Act criminalizes transgenderism as such, though I suppose sex between a transwoman and a straight man might be considered to be gay sex if the transwoman’s gender change is not legally recognized. However, under those circumstances, sex between a transwoman and a lesbian would be legal.

Secondly, paragraph 11(2) (see the full text of the Act at http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2014/02/24/62755) appears under the title “Brothels,” and seems only to apply to premises used “for the purpose of being unlawfully or carnally known.” I wouldn’t say that apartments are normally rented out for the purpose of sex. I think this paragraph may be aimed at hotel rooms rented so that a prostitute and john can have sex, not to housing rented to LGB people (except possibly same-sex couples).

Thirdly, I don’t see anything in the Act that criminalizes providing services generally to LGBT people. Section 13 seems limited to premises, assets and electronic devices “for the purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality.”

Of course, I understand that courts, and especially police and blackmailers, may adopt much wider interpretations than the actual statutory language would justify.

Jim Burroway

March 24th, 2014

First, Uganda law and society do not recognize transgender people, nor do they distinguish between transgender and sexual orientation. Transgender people are assumed to be gay, and often vice versa.

Second, re-read Clause 11 again, and consider that if I and my partner were to rent a house, then we would most certainly be using the bedroom “for the purpose of being unlawfully or carnally known.” And if the landlord were to discover it and, therefore, “knowingly suffer” that we were going to do so “whether such carnal knowledge is intended to be with any particular man or woman,” then he becomes a felon. There is no limiting language to permit a narrower reading of that clause. Which is why we are hearing through social media that LGBT people are, in fact, reciving eviction notices from their landlords as a direct consequence of Museveni’s signing the bill into law.

And finally, the Clause 13 isn’t the only concern when it comse to providing services to LGBT people. The major concern arises from Clause 7, “Aiding and abetting homosexuality.” Again, the overly-broad wording is the issue here. Medical and legal experts inside and outside of Uganda have long warned, since the bill’s introduction in 2009, that this clause would have a dramatic impact on their ability to deliver health, developmental, economic and social services to LGBT Ugandans.

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