Uganda Parliament Takes First Step Toward Reintroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
September 3rd, 2014
Ugandan lawmakers took the first step toward re-introducing the nullified Anti-Homosexuality Act for another round of debate and possible passage by granting leave of two MPs to prepare the bill for introduction. The AHA had been annulled by the Constitutional Court on August 1 after Parliament passed the bill in December without a constitutionally-mandated quorum. Daily Monitor has more:
Yesterday, as the House resumed from a mini-recess, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, said the two MPs (AHA’s original sponsor David Bahati and reputed co-author MP Benson Obua Ogwal) have been granted leave of Parliament to allow them time to prepare the Bill, triggering excitement among members.
…Shortly after the court nullification, lawmakers led by Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebagala began collecting signatures in support of a plan to immediately reintroduce the law. They wanted the House to suspend handling of the ongoing Budget process, with a proposal that the new Bill be the first on the Order Paper, a request that was turned down yesterday.
“We are now focusing on the Budget process and the Bill was already here and we passed it into law. If it had still been within Parliament, it would still be property of Parliament and we would have done whatever necessary to correct the anomalies,” Mr Oulanyah said.
“So when we finish the Budget and as soon as the movers of this Bill are ready, we will proceed. When it is introduced, we will handle it appropriately about those issues that were raised that caused the nullification,” he added. Under Uganda’s Penal Code Act, sexual acts “against the order of nature” are already criminalised.
This is officially the first step toward allowing a private member’s bill to be considered by Parliament. Before the original Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first introduced in Parliament in October 2009, M.P. David Bahati had received similar leave from Parliament in a little-noticed procedure six months earlier. (Government bills, in contrast to private members’ bills, have a slightly more direct line to introduction.) The next step would be the bill’s first reading, which constitutes its formal introduction into Parliament. After that, it goes to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for consideration and proposed amendments. The bill then goes back to Parliament for its Second Reading, followed by the consideration of the Committee’s recommendations. After each clause of the bill and its proposed amendments are considered, then the bill goes to its third reading for final consideration. It then goes to the President for his assent. He may return the bill back to Parliament, but under Uganda’s constitution he has no power to veto the bill entirely.
These are the steps that the AHA followed before becoming law earlier this year, except that Parliament didn’t have a proper quorum when speaker Rebecca Kadaga called for a snap vote in December. This was apparently in keeping with the expressed desires of a large number of MPs who supported the bill’s passage but wanted to avoid having their names associated with it out of fear that they would be blacklisted for travel visas by foreign governments or that their pet projects would be de-funded. But since that maneuver didn’t work out so well with the Constitutional Court, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanya promised to follow the proper procedures this time:
Two weeks ago, President Yoweri Museveni met with ruling party members to strategize the way forward on the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The President announced the formation of a ten-member committee chaired by Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi. Because the Court only ruled on the matter of the quorum and didn’t address the other constitutional issues raised by the legal challenge, the committee was tasked to review the legal challenge in its entirety to anticipate other grounds on which a future Anti-Homosexuality Act may be annulled. This latest move by Parliament may be an end-run around the President’s committee. The NTV reporter’s mention of the Anti-Homosexuality Act being the “property” of Parliament hints at a tug-of-war between the President and Parliament over the legislation’s future.
Ugandan MPs Petition To Swiftly Re-Approve Anti-Homosexuality Act
August 7th, 2014
Daily Monitor is reporting that more than 150 members of Parliament have signed their names to a petition demanding that Parliament re-approve the Anti-Homosexuality Act after a Constitutional Court nullified the law last week:
By yesterday evening, the drive had garnered the support of 158 MPs.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr (David) Bahati (the bill’s original sponsor) said he would again take the lead in presenting the Bill, reiterating that it is the shield for the Ugandan society from practices that are a threat to children, family values and posterity.
“We want to rectify the procedural issue that court pointed out. MPs are making a statement that the when the foundation of this nation is destroyed, the representatives of the people cannot stand by and look on. What happened on Friday was an empty victory .We are going to rectify what the court decided,” Mr Bahati said.
Kawempe North MP Latif Sebaggala, the brainchild of the drive to collect signatures, yesterday indicated that a committee will be formed next Tuesday to chart a way forward on how the Bill will be re-introduced.
Ordinarily, a bill would have to be introduced in Parliament and follow the original route of three readings, a committee report, and a statement of financial impact from the government. Pink News reports that MP’s are planning to short-circuit that process:
MP David Bahati, who tabled the original bill, previously said that rules could be flouted in an emergency.
He said: “We can suspend any of the rules if we think it is important.
“Whether it’s tomorrow or a week or a month, we will take whatever time is required to make sure that the future of our children is protected, the family is protected, and the sovereignty nation of the protected.
“The issues of technicalities is not a big deal to anybody. But the big deal… is that homosexuality is not a human right here in Uganda.”
August 4th, 2014
Scott Lively is “not unhappy” — that’s the closest semblance to humanity that he can muster — that Uganda’s Constitutional Court voided the Anti-Homosexuality Act last Friday. His mitigated joy is not because the law was unjust, but because he thinks this latest development can provide him with some kind of vindication:
Now that the Ugandan government has shown itself capable of self-governance, I’m waiting for calls of apology from media outlets around the world who for years have insinuated (or outright insisted) that the Ugandans were merely my puppets in a nefarious scheme to persecute homosexuals there. That lie is also, of course, the premise of the “Crimes Against Humanity” lawsuit filed against me here in U.S. Federal Court by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and their Marxist New York attorneys of the ironically named Center for Constitutional Rights.
…The evolutionist hero Charles Darwin taught that Blacks were an intermediary step in the evolutionary progression of apes into human beings… Darwin’s intellectual descendants dominate western civilization today, including the so-called mainstream media. Individual politicians and journalists may not personally express such blatantly offensive beliefs, but their Neo-Colonial attitude toward the Africans in the matter of African countries legislating their own moral values is grossly paternalistic at best — and inescapably implicitly racist.
In contrast, I, and my fellow Christians who have served as missionaries to Africa for generations have always treated the Africans as equals, created in the image of God just as we are. Every Christian who has ever visited Uganda knows that the typical Ugandans are a warm and lovely people: intelligent, caring and capable. Though they are very poor, their culture (outside of some areas which still embrace paganism) is highly civilized and its leaders are well educated and quite competent.
That is rich. Lively, who last I checked was still white, describes himself as the “Father of the Ugandan Pro-Family Movement.” You literally cannot get any more paternalistic than that. Those titular caps are all his, which he bestowed upon himself when he listed his qualifications to run for Massachusetts governor in 2012. He’s long had a paternal view of his Ugandan partners. In 2010, he told reporter Mariana van Zeller:
I was actually one of the people that helped to start the pro-family movement there. …they were finding people there, primarily homosexual men from Europe and the United States coming into the country and working to try to change the social values. And they didn’t know what to do. They had never had a pro-family movement. This was all new to them. So they wanted to draft some kind of law. And it wasn’t written at that point. It was just sort of the idea that they wanted to do something. So they invited me to come and speak along with a couple of other people from the U.S., and I did.
On the positive side, my host and ministry partner in Kampala, Stephen Langa, was overjoyed with the results of our efforts and predicted confidently that the coming weeks would see significant improvement in the moral climate of the nation, and a massive increase in pro-family activism in every social sphere. He said that a respected observer of society in Kampala had told him that our campaign was like a nuclear bomb against the “gay” agenda in Uganda. I pray that this, and the predictions, are true. [Emphasis mine]
Don’t you see? He started the so-called “pro-family” movement there. He spoke on the radio and in churches, instruct them in dealing with all those homosexuals. He, who knew they were thinking about writing a new law, spent the morning of March 5, 2009 meeting with members of Uganda’s Parliament at the Parliament Conference Hall. He went on television to “expose a book distributed to schools by UNICEF that normalizes homosexuality to teenagers.” He expected a massive protest in response to his work (which he got over the next several weeks.) He proudly dropped that “nuclear bomb” on Uganda. And after all of those boasts, he accuses his critics of being “grossly paternalistic at best — and inescapably implicitly racist.” But not him, the great “Father of the Ugandan Pro-Family Movement.”
Even his “nuclear bomb” analogy is megalomaniacal. It’s also somewhat problematic. It implies that, much like the unsuspecting residents of Hiroshima on a quiet and sunny August morning, we were all just going about our business when suddenly — Boom! — out of nowhere, Lively came along and laid waste to the landscape. I’m sure he takes a great deal of satisfaction with that image, but it’s inaccurate, just as inaccurate as the charge that holds him responsible for “exporting” homophobia to Uganda — as though they didn’t already have a vast supplies of it before he got there. Whenever I’ve been invited to speak on these events, I’ve used a different analogy. I would characterize the already-existing homophobia in Uganda as a ranging bonfire, and what Lively did was fly by and dump a jetload of napalm on it. Lively didn’t create the homophobic conditions, but he unquestionably added more than enough fuel to propel events forward in a direct line to where we are today.
Lively was joined by two other Americans at his now-infamous 2009 talk in Kampala: Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge, a so-called “life coach” for Richard Cohen’s ex-gay outfit, the International Healing Foundation. (Brundidge also went around Phoenix’s mortuaries praying to raise the dead, undoubtedly with a similar success rate.) The talks by Schmierer and Brundidge were mild-mannered by American standards, but they prepared the ground for Lively by building up his credibility as a political and legal expert. Lively ran with it. He described the gay movement as an “evil institution.” They’re after your children, he warned. AIDS, was just “the penalty of your error which is appropriate,” he said. “Super-macho” gay men were responsible for the Nazi gas chambers, he declared. “The Rwandan stuff probably involved these guys,” he added, referring to the 1994 massacre that took place just across Uganda’s southern border, only seven hours away by car. He took the many myths and fears about gay people that were already circulating there and amplified it with his own self-aggrandizement: “I know more about this than almost anyone in the world.”
This was his message, at that conference (and on the DVD taped there to be distributed later), in churches, on radio and television, and in meetings with political leaders. His campaign was highly effective, perhaps even beyond his fondest dreams. It’s no wonder Lively prefers to glory in the power of his nuclear bomb. And while the analogy is problematic in the details, I’ll go with it. But I have to ask: who drops a nuclear bomb and then turns around and scoffs at the suggestion that it created a toxic rain of radioactive fallout?
Well, Scott Lively does. Soon after he left Uganda, its LGBT citizens found themselves engulfed in a nationwide vigilante campaign cheered on by the tabloids and FM radio. (How’s that for a Rwanda echo?) There were marches on Parliament while ordinary LGBT people found themselves besieged by mobs, kicked out of their homes, abandoned by their families and fired from their jobs. But Lively countered that it wasn’t his fault; it was all the homosexuals’ fault“:
It is as if the militant ranks of “Code Pink” were transported back to 1890s America to agitate for “sexual freedom.” Our great grandparents would not have countenanced this. There would have been violence, as there has now been in Uganda.
That is, of course, the strategy: Agents provocateur goad unsophisticated natives into over-reacting, while the “gay” media lie in wait to catch the images and spin the propaganda that is even now poisoning the gullible against the Ugandans.
“Unsophisticated natives” — who’s being paternalistic and implicitly racist now?
The Anti-Homosexualty Bill that emerged from his nuclear fallout would have mandated lifetime imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality, and the death penalty for, among others, those who were HIV-positive or were “serial offenders” of any part of that bill. Other parts of the bill imposed lengthy prison sentences for anyone who provided services or rented homes to LGBT people, or who advocated on their behalf, or who failed to report them to police.
I have no evidence to tie Lively’s handiwork to any particular clauses in that draconian bill, but Lively’s interview with van Zeller is revealing. When asked if he supported the bill, his only objection was to the death penalty. She asked about the other clauses. “I would not have written the bill this way,” he replied, but declined to say which other clauses should be eliminated or modified. His only complaint was that the bill missed an opportunity to make Uganda “the first country in the world to have a government-sponsored ex-gay therapy.” He wanted to give Ugandans the false choice between coerced ex-gay therapy and spending the rest of their lives in the notorious Luzira prison. But then he added:
Like I said, I would not have written the bill this way. But what it comes down to is a question of lesser of two evils, you know like many of the political choices that we have. What is the lesser of two evils here? To allow the American and European gay activists to continue to do to that country what they’ve done here? Or to have a law that may be overly harsh in some regards for people who are indulging in voluntary sexual conduct? I think the lesser of two evils is for the bill to go through.
Mariana van Zeller quickly followed up:
van Zeller: Even with the death penalty attached to it?
Lively: Even with the death penalty… well… if it’s clearly restricted to pedophiles… I still don’t… No, I’ve told them I won’t support it if it has the death penalty in it. So even with that, I think that would do more harm… It’s… it’s… it’s just that’s the sort of vice that you’re sort of trapped in here. It’s two very extreme positions, and they’re… The Ugandans could have gone the middle course, and they didn’t have to go this far. So you’re sort of… people like myself are sort of stuck. Am I going to endorse something that goes too far to protect the whole society? You know, and I guess I have to say just on my principles I don’t believe that it’s… that I could support it that way.
You can see his internal conflict here. He considers the question, and actually spends a good fifteen seconds — I timed it on the video — hemming and hawing as he turns it over in his mind before he finally says “I’ve told them I won’t support it if it has the death penalty in it.” But that’s still not the end of his answer. He complains that he has to make a choice — that “people like myself are sort of stuck” — between whether people should live or die. I mean seriously, who responds to a question about whether gay people should be put to death by having to mull it over in his mind?
Scott Lively does, and Parliament went on to pass the bill into law. Just before it did so in a rushed session in December 2013, it approved a few minor modifications. It dropped the death penalty and replaced it with lifetime prison sentence — as if that were an improvement, and after rejecting a proposal to reduce the penalty for plain-old-homosexuality to fourteen years. It dropped the clause requiring family members to report their loved ones to police, but it added a provision mandating life in prison for those who enter into a same-sex marriage — even if they did so while abroad. After President Yoweri Museveni signed that bill into law, Lively’s only response was to chastise Obama for calling it “a step backwards for Ugandans.” Meanwhile, Uganda’s leading tabloid launched yet another multi-day vigilante campaign featuring hundreds of names, addresses, places of employment and even photos, driving LGBT people underground and fleeing for their lives. Who looks at of this and merely shrugs his shoulders and says not to worry, it won’t be so bad?
Of course you know the answer. Scott Lively does, and he did it in his second response/excuse for the law. This one was particularly condescending to Uganda: “Poor countries with limited criminal justice systems tend to rely on the harshness of the letter of the law to be a deterrent to offenders. In practice, the sentencing is usually pretty lenient and I expect that will be the case under this new law as well.” As if the Ugandan people didn’t deserve better and its government couldn’t possibly be expected to meet the usual standards we expect from nations who style themselves democracies.
Love the sinner, hate the sin, right? We’ve all heard that before. Lively himself instructed a Latvian audience in 2007 to use that phrase as an inoculation against charges of hating gay people. But more recently he admitted that the empty incantation was just that: nothing more than “a disclaimer to prove (Christians) aren’t haters.”He then lamented that this magical spell didn’t “mitigate their hostility toward me for saying it anyhow. Trust me.” Lively complains to anyone who will listen about the Southern Poverty Law Center’s labeling his Abiding Truth Ministries a hate group. But if his own sinister actions and cynical statements aren’t the very textbook definition of hatred, then there’s no such thing as hate anywhere.
But once again, we see his unconcealable hatred in his latest statement on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act: “I am not unhappy that the Ugandan law as written has been nullified. I have always said it was too harsh and did not emphasize prevention and therapy for homosexual disorder.” (Emphasis mine.) He saves that gossamer-thin sentiment for his very last paragraph, and I suppose we’re supposed to feel lucky he conceded that much.
Westboro Baptist is typically held up as the go-to example for the most extreme brand of anti-gay hatred imaginable, but I must strongly disagree. Westboro is a circus side show, a bunch of clowns with a talent for tweaking their targets, but with no results to show for it. Lively’s evil has had real-world consequences. And by his boasts, we can see how much satisfaction he derives from his malevolence.
Will Uganda’s Constitutional Court Strike Down the Anti-Homosexuality Act Tomorrow?
July 31st, 2014
The highly unusual speed with which Uganda’s Constitutional Court is responding to the petition filed by several human rights activists is being seen by many as a good omen for a possible declaration striking down the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act which was signed into law last February. Human rights activists filed their challenge in March, but seeing cases dragging on with almost no action for more than a year is the norm in Uganda’s judicial system. Ugandan’s often talk of things happening in “African Time.” So the Constitutional Court’ts snap call for parties to be ready to present their cases on Wednesday caught a lot of people off guard, including State Attorney Patricia Mutesi who complained that she wasn’t prepared to proceed with her arguments and asked for a delay. That request was rejected. That leaves a lot of folks wondering why the Court is in such an uncharacteristic rush:
Rumors are flying around Kampala in an effort to make sense of the court’s sudden haste in this case. There is speculation that it was ordered to strike down the law by President Yoweri Museveni in order to please the World Bank — which is holding up a $90 million loan over the bill — or to satisfy the United States in advance of next week’s Summit of African Leaders in Washington. Others suggest the court is trying to bolster Prime Minister Mbabazi by validating his call for a quorum; Museveni moved aggressively shortly after the vote to isolate Mbabazi to prevent him from mounting a leadership challenge.
LGBT acticist Frank Mugisha is optimistic, while Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa is glum:
“I think that we could have a very good judgment tomorrow, and if we get that judgment then it’s over – and we just have to celebrate,” said Mugisha, who heads the Sexual Minorities Uganda group.
Anti-gay preacher Martin Ssempa, who was also in court, said he feared the “judicial abortion of our bill” due to international pressure.
“This case is moving at lightning speed,” he said, claiming the petition was being pushed to polish Uganda’s international reputation before Museveni travels to Washington next week to meet President Barack Obama at a landmark US-Africa summit.
The Constitutional Court focused its attention this week on the question of whether Parliament acted with the constitutionally-required quorum when it passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act in December. The expected ruling tomorrow will be on that question. If the court rules agaisnt the petitioners on the quorum issue, then proceedings will continue on whether the AHA’s provisions violate Uganda’s constitutional guarantees to a number of rights, including the right to privacy, freedom from discrimination, and freedoms of assembly and speech.
Uganda’s Inter-Religious Council Calls On Government to Revisit Anti-Homosexuality Act
March 14th, 2014
While the rest is outraged over Uganda’s passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act which imposes lifetime imprisonment for LGBT people and lengthy prison sentences for their supporters, the controversy inside Uganda is being augmented over a recently passed Anti-Pornography Act, which, according to reports (caveat: I haven’t seen the text of the Act itself), allegedly bans women from wearing miniskirts. This has led to a number of mob assaults on women throughout the country who are seen wearing clothing that others perceive to be in violation of the law. In many of these cases, the women have been forcibly stripped of their clothing in public.
This is just part of the background behind a letter from the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda that appeared in yesterday’s Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper. The letter from the Council’s General Secretary calls on the government to revisit the Anti-Pornography Act somewhat in passing while arguing for major changes to the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
The Inter-religious Council of Uganda would like to comment on the homosexuality and pornography debate particularly the anti-homosexuality and anti-pornography laws.
Having studied the two laws in detail, we have come to the conclusion that the laws actually seek to protect the moral fibre of our society by stopping recruitment and promotion of homosexual acts, and indecent behaviour.
In our earlier statements on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, we demonstrated availability of evidence to prove that recruitment into and promotion of homosexuality was indeed taking place in some of our schools and society as a whole, and this was targeting mainly young people.
However, we discovered that a number of clauses in the laws could be subject of abuse. For example: Section 2 of the Anti-Homosexuality Act is too broad as it talks about incriminating someone on the basis of “touching a person of the same sex with the motive of having sex with them”. The interpretation of “touch” is subjective, and may imply that anyone can be accused of homosexuality and fail to defend himself.
Section 13 of the same Act stipulates that it is an offence for “any person to use electronic devices (internet, films and mobile phones) for purposes of abetting or promoting homosexuality. The problem here is that if a person/media house writes an article trying to show homosexuality as ‘natural’ then he/she commits an offence earning a stiff penalty to either the individual or the media house.
In light of the above, we propose the following:
Parliament revisits certain provisions in the Act, especially those relating to punishment of offenders. Our view, which is informed by pastoral considerations and our earlier position in which we advised government to drop certain provisions in the then Bill, is that the sentences prescribed for homosexual acts must be proportional to the gravity of such acts.
Government stops the media from publishing names of persons it purports to be homosexuals, or promoting homosexuality in Uganda. Politicians and sections of religious leaders also stop using inflammatory language in the debate on homosexuality. Government also revisits the Anti-Pornography law in light of recent attacks of women.
Government provides clear frameworks for implementation of both laws.
Government dialogues with the donor community on the looming suspension of aid to our country.
We condemn any unlawful acts of mob justice against perceived offenders, and appeal to you to embrace such persons with love and compassion as we search together answers to the issues at hand.
The Inter-Religious Council is a coalition of Ugandan Roman Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Christian Orthodox and Seventh-Day Adventist faith leaders. It’s unclear how much influence the Council wields in government or in society however. 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 for the bill.
Norway, Demark, the Netherlands, which collectively had provided $27 million in aid to Uganda, announced that they are cutting aid to the Ugandan government. Sweden announced that they were cutting just a little over $1 million in direct government-to-goverment aid, but was continuing to provide aid to non-govermental programs. Two weeks ago, the World Bank said it was delaying a $90 million loan to Uganda’s health service. And yesterday, unconfirmed reports emerged that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was delaying an unspecified portion of an estimated $2.3 million grant to Uganda’s Ministry of Health.
The interruption in foreign aid appears to have gotten the Council’s attention. While much of the suspension has been focused on direct aid to the Ugandan Government, it’s almost certain that many of the faith-based charities in Uganda are also beginning to feel the pinch.
Report: U.S. Suspends Portion of Governmental Aid to Uganda
March 13th, 2014
Reuters, which is the only outlet so far reporting the story, quotes ” a senior U.S. government official”:
“As a result of this review process, a portion of the U.S. Centre for Disease Control’s (CDC) cooperative agreement with the Ministry of Health has been put on hold pending this review,” a senior U.S. government official told Reuters on Thursday.
The U.S. official did not say how much aid was withheld but added the CDC had spent $3.9 million on a ministry of health program last year.
Uganda’s health ministry said it had been told it would no longer be able to access money from a fund used to buy antiretroviral drugs and HIV testing kits.
There has been a great deal of concern that with the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, LGBT people in Uganda would either face discrimination when trying to access health care or would fear their exposure and arrest if they were to try to go to a government-run health care clinic or health care facility. Given that the Anti-Homosexuality Act threatens imprisonment to anyone who “aids, abets, (or) counsels …another to engage in acts of homosexuality ” — which can easily be interpreted as banning safer-sex counseling, or providing information or health care related to the sexual health to gay people — these are not unreasonable fears.
Total U.S. aid to Uganda is estimated at $723 million for 2013. As far as I can tell, this figure includes aid to the Ugandan government as well as non-governmental grants.
Norway, Demark and the Netherlands, which collectively had provided $27 million in aid to Uganda, announced that they are cutting aid to the Ugandan government. Two weeks ago, the World Bank announced that it was putting on hold a $90 million loan to Uganda’s health service. Last week, Sweden announced that they were cutting just a little over $1 million in direct government-to-goverment aid, but was continuing to provide aid to non-govermental programs.
Former Ugandan VP Denounces Anti-Homosexuality Act
March 12th, 2014
Uganda’s opposition-leaning weekly Observer reports that former Vice President Specioza Wandira-Kazibwe has called for repeal of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, saying that the law would have a negative impact on public health and Uganda’s international reputation:
Kazibwe, a special envoy of the UN Secretary General for HIV/Aids in Africa, said in a Monday statement that she had told President Museveni that the criminalization of homosexuality only serves to fuel stigma and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and risks undermining the national Aids response, which is otherwise making significant progress.
She wrote: “I am in full solidarity with the LGBT community and I will continue to defend their rights in Uganda and across Africa. Rest assured of my unwavering support and action for the realization of the rights for every human being, which has been my struggle since childhood.
I will not reverse my path. I will continue to engage with the government of Uganda and civil society organizations on this important matter, and I continue to urge the Government of Uganda to revise or repeal the Anti-Homosexuality Act at the earliest opportunity.”
Wandira-Kazibwe was training as a surgeon before turning to public health policy and serving as Vice President from 1994 to 2003.
Human Rights Groups Petition Uganda’s Constitutional Court over Anti-Homosexuality Act
March 11th, 2014
Uganda’s Daily Monitor reports:
A coalition of fifty civil society organisations on Human rights today filed a petition in the constitutional court challenging the legality of Law on Homosexuality.
The activists argue that the Anti Homosexuality Act violates Ugandans’ Constitutionally guaranteed right to: privacy, to be free from discrimination, dignity, to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, to the freedoms of expression, thought, assembly and association; to the presumption of innocence, and to the right to civic participation.
In a statement issued by the Coalition Members, the petitioners said that the Act represents an effort by the Executive and Parliament to scapegoat an unpopular minority for political gain.
There are ten named petitioners, including LGBT rights activists Dr. Paul Semugoma (longtime BTB readers may know him as the formerly the anonymous blogger GayUganda), Freedom and Roam Uganda founder Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera, transgender rights activist Julian Pepe Onziema, and Sexual Minorities Uganda executive director Frank Mugisha. The petition was also signed by Joe Oloka-Onyango, a Professor of Law and Director of the Makerere University Human Rights and Peace Centre in Kampala; Andrew Mwenda, a journalist and founder of the Ugandan news magazine Independent; and M.P. Fox Odoi-Oywelowo. Rounding out the named petitioners are the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) and the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD).
The petition states that the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed by parliament without a proper quorum as required by Uganda’s Constitution and that it violates the Constitutions guarantees of equality and privacy. The petition also argies that “in criminalising touching by persons of the same sex, creates an offence that is overly broad and is in contravention of the principle of legality” under the Constitution. The petition then goes on to each clause of the Anti-Homosexuality Act and describes the articles of the Constitution the clause violates.
It would appear that the law itself is not yet officially in effect. The final step to make a law official is for it to be “gazetted,” or published in the official Uganda Gazette. This is a common formality in a number of British Commonwealth nations, but Daily Monitor notes that the Anti-Homosexuality Act has not yet undergone that step. The petition asks the court to “permanently stay() the gazetting of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.”
The petition is also calling on the court to issue an order barring media from publishing photos, names, addresses and occupations of people thought to be gay. Since President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act on February 24, tabloids like Red Pepper, Hello and others have been waging mass vigilante campaigns on their front pages and publishing other stories designed to incite hatred and violence. There have been reports on blogs and social media that LGBT people are receiving eviction notices from their landlords.
Mother Jones on “American Pastor Behind Uganda’s Anti-Gay Crackdown”
March 10th, 2014
Longtime BTB readers will recognize much of what Mother Jones’ Mariah Blake covers, but the value of this article is in pulling together Lively’s career over the past decade into one place for a much wider audience.
Lively, a 56-year-old Massachusetts native, specializes in stirring up anti-gay feeling around the globe. In Uganda, which he first visited in 2002, he has cultivated ties to influential politicians and religious leaders at the forefront of the nation’s anti-gay crusade. Just before the first draft of Uganda’s anti-gay bill began circulating in April 2009, Lively traveled to Kampala and gave lengthy presentations to members of Uganda’s parliament and cabinet, which laid out the argument that the nation’s president and lawmakers would later use to justify Uganda’s draconian anti-gay crackdown—namely that Western agitators were trying to unravel Uganda’s social fabric by spreading “the disease” of homosexuality to children. “They’re looking for other people to be able to prey upon,” Lively said, according to video footage. “When they see a child that’s from a broken home it’s like they have a flashing neon sign over their head.
Lively is not the only US evangelical who has fanned the flames of anti-gay sentiment in Uganda. As they lose ground at home, where public opinion and law are rapidly shifting in favor of gay equality, religious conservatives have increasingly turned their attention to Africa. And Uganda, with its large Christian population, has been particularly fertile ground for their crusade. Journalist (a past Mother Jones contributor) Jeff Sharlet has reported at length on the Family, a politically connected US-based ministry, which promotes hard-line social policies in the East African nation.
But, according to Ugandan gay-rights activists, Lively has played an unparalleled role in fostering the climate of hate that gave rise to Uganda’s anti-gay law. “The bill is essentially his creation,” says Frank Mugisha, director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a coalition of gay-rights organizations. Mugisha’s group has filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in US federal court, accusing Lively of international crimes against humanity on the grounds that he and his Ugandan allies allegedly conspired to deprive gay Ugandans of basic human rights.
The piece also includes additional video from Lively’s 2009 conference in Kampala.
Vatican Cardinal Criticizes Criminalization of Homosexuality
March 5th, 2014
Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana has called on Uganda to repeal its Anti-Homosexuality Act:
Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said Tuesday that “homosexuals are not criminals” and shouldn’t be sentenced for up to life in prison. Speaking to reporters in Bratislava where he attended a conference on the Catholic Church and human rights, Turkson said the Vatican also calls on the international community to keep providing aid.
Cardinal Turkson’s comments are considered significant in Catholic circles for two reasons: he’s a member of the Roman Curia, and he’s sometimes mentioned as being among the “papabile” or potential candidates to be elected pope in a future conclave.
Uganda’s Anglican Archbishop “Ready To Break Away”
March 3rd, 2014
Uganda’s Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali made the threat during a sermon yesterday:
The Archbishop of Church of Uganda (CoU) has responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, saying Uganda is ready to break away from the Church of England if its views on homosexuality are not respected.
Addressing Christians at St Andrews Church, Bukoto yesterday, Archbishop Stanley Ntangali [sic] said the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York John Sentamu recently wrote to him, saying the Church of England was concerned about the CoU’s anti-homosexuality stand.
“I have written back to Archbishop Sentamu. I told him it does not matter even if we do not work with them because the Church of England is a product of repentance and USA is founded on Christian values but they seem to have become spiritually blind,” Bishop Ntangali [sic] said.
Shortly after Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Ntagali thanked Parliament during a Christmas message.
Ugandan Tabloids Continue Outing Campaigns
March 1st, 2014
The ink was barely dry on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act when Uganda’s notorious tabloid Red Pepper launched a massive outing campaign on Tuesday, revealing the names, addresses and places of employment for as many as two hundred LGBT Ugandans, many of whom were private citizens who had never disclosed their sexuality publicly, and some of whom, undoubtedly, may have been falsely identified. Red Pepper followed that on Wednesday with more front-page headlines promising “new pictures of gays inside” along with an alleged threat that “homos vow to shed blood over M7 law.” (“M7” is a common shorthand for President Yoweri Museveni’s last name.). That same day, a rival tabloid, Hello, featured a front page screaming, “Defiant! Top City Homos Throw Mega Bash.”
Red Pepper‘s reign of terror has continued unabated all week, with some issues coming out as much as a full day earlier than usual, and each with more salacious stories reputedly “exposing” Uganda’s gay underground. Thursday’s Red Pepper included a cover story warning that “Homos go to court over anti-gay law.” That same day, Red Pepper rushed out its Friday edition, which twisted earlier interviews and statements from Ugandan LGBT advocates and turned them into potentially violence-inciting anti-gay propaganda. The same issue also claimed to have stories of Ugandan celebrities “spill(ing) gay secrets.”
Saturday’s edition, which was out by 2:00 p.m. Friday, included a spread featuring photos, names and addresses of LGBT Ugandans were allegedly part of a “homo cabinet.” The same issue boasted another feature titled, “How to prevent your child from becoming a homo.”
Sunday’s edition of Red Pepper was rushed out Saturday afternoon, which included more outing allegations by anti-gay pastor Solomon Male. You may recall that Male, while deeply anti-gay, opposed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, charging that it was providing cover for prominent people in Uganda’s government who were supposedly “luring” children in to homosexuality. I don’t have many details of Male’s charges in this edition, except that it includes more “outing” allegations of private and public individuals. The same edition also included an extensive section alleging that foreign non-nongovernemntal organizations (NGOs), as well as allegations concerning gay students in schools.
Red Pepper is an old hat at these anti-gay vigilante campaigns. In April 2009, just one month after Scott Lively’s highly influential anti-gay conference in Kampala, Red Pepper published a list of names, photos, occupations and other identifying information — their “killer dossier,” as they put it – of more than fifty Ugandans they accused of homosexuality. Red Pepper followed in December, two months after the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into Parliament, with another so-called “exposé” of “city tycoons who bankroll Ugandan homos.”
There are currently unconfirmed reports of arrests, beatings, and hospitalizations of LGBT Ugandans and their relatives. Getting conformation about these reports is proving extremely difficult, as virtually all LGBT Ugandans are hunkered down and remaining out of sight:
“The community is very scared, very worried,” said Dickson Mujuni of the RPL AIDS Foundation during a telephone interview from Kampala, the Ugandan capital. “They’re underground.”
…This reporter initially asked Mujuni to speak with him on Skype, but he said those in the Internet café would have potentially assaulted him if they heard him talking about LGBT-specific issues.
“That’s how bad the situation is,” Mujuni told the Blade. “Even when you’re receiving a phone call, you have to talk in such a way that the person next to you does not understand exactly what you’re talking about because if you’re very open in your conversation, it’s very unpredictable. Anything can happen because here we have mob justice… if you’re Skyping and you’re talking about that, you could get beaten up.”
Scotland to Offer Asylum to LGBT Ugandans
March 1st, 2014
Glasgow is set to host the Commonwealth Games this summer, which several athletes and members of the Ugandan government are expected to attend:
Humza Yousaf, Minister For External Affairs, has written to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague detailing the Scottish Government’s gesture to welcome “any Ugandan” persecuted by the new laws.
…With prominent members of the Ugandan government due in Glasgow this summer, the Scottish Government will also meet representatives of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) groups to discuss proposals on handling human rights issues during the event.
…In his letter Mr Yousaf has urged Mr Hague “to offer asylum to any Ugandans who feels threatened or persecuted by the legislation”, adding that “Scotland will play her part in providing asylum for those seeking refuge from this draconian legislation”.
He adds that during the Games “no one from any part of the Commonwealth who visits Scotland will be under any doubt about our values as a welcoming, open and tolerant society”.
A senior source said: “The issue is now so high profile it is hardly something the Scottish Government or anyone involved in the Games can now shy away from.”
Report: Sweden Reconsiders Foreign Aid to Uganda
March 1st, 2014
According to this report from NTV Uganda, Sweden’s Finance Minister Andes Borg was in Uganda on a visit to highlight Swedish investment oportunities in East Africa. While there, he addressed the problems that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act posed for Sweden’s foreign aid and investment in Uganda:
We are reviewing our own aid program with Uganda, and obviously this is a factor that has to be taken in to account. It is not a posative factor but a major problem that we will have to deal with. But there is also in the Swedish aid to Uganda very important areas supporting the civil society, improving health care and the research and development that are important. So we see this as a Swedish long term commitment to a partnership with Uganda. But this is a political issue that is quite problemantic in the medium and short term, I must say.
…The problems that we have from a Swedish human right perspective on this issue, and the legislation is very problematic from our perspective. And I do think that there are also some broader economic risks, not only when it comes to aid cooperation but also when it comes to tourism and investment where this is a reputation risk for Uganda.
Sweden provides about US$10 million in aid to Uganda. Shortly after the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was proposed in 2009, Sweden warned Uganda that the bill was placing Sweden’s foreign aid at risk. In 2012 Sweden suspended a portion of its aid to Uganda, as did Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Britain, following revelations that $15 million in aid from those countries had been diverted to private bank accounts of officials in Prime Minister Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s office. Britian’s cut in foreign aid was later extended to the entire Ugandan government. On Thursday, Uganda’s Parliament cleared Mbabazi of wrongdoing despite lingering questions about the scandal.
Norway, Demark and the Netherlands, which collectively had provided $27 million in aid to Uganda, have announced that they are cutting aid to the Ugandan government. On Friday, the World Bank announced that it was putting on hold a $90 million loan to Uganda’s health service. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the State Department is reviewing its relationship with Uganda. The U.S. currently gives more that $486 million in bilateral aid. On Wednesday, the U.S. Ambassador to Kampala said that the U.S. would deny visas to Ugandans who “incite violence, people who propagate hate, (and) who have used political violence.”
World Bank Delays $90 Million Loan to Uganda
February 28th, 2014
The World Bank yesterday announced that it was delaying a US$90 million loan to Uganda’s health system, citing the country’s draconian new Anti-Homosexuality Act that President Yoweri Museveni signed into law on Monday.
“We have postponed the project for further review to ensure that the development objectives would not be adversely affected by the enactment of this new law,” World Bank spokesman David Theis said in an email.
…The World Bank, a poverty-fighting institution based in Washington, usually refrains from getting involved in countries’ internal politics or in issues such as gay rights to avoid antagonising any of its 188 member countries.
World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, however, sent an email to bank staff saying the bank opposes discrimination, and would protect the safety of all employees.
He said passage of the Ugandan law was not an isolated incident, as 83 countries outlaw homosexuality and more than 100 discriminate against women.
“In the coming months, we will have a broad discussion about discrimination with staff, management, and our board on these issues,” Kim said in the email. “Now is the right moment for this conversation.”
The bank’s executive board was set to approve the loan today. The $90 million loan is part of a larger $1.56 billion portfolio the bank has with Uganda. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim wrote an op-ed discussing the broader problems of discrimination of all kinds around the world and how that played into his decision:
These recent anti-gay laws, and many others that have been on the books for years, are acutely ironic. Just 15 years ago, a small band of gay men and women — largely in the United States but also in Europe and parts of Africa — fought with all their intellect, energy and creativity to expand access to treatment for all people with HIV/AIDS. In 2000, just 50,000 people in the developing world received AIDS treatment. Today, largely thanks to the work of these gay activists and others, more than 10 million people are being treated with AIDS drugs — most of them African.
At the World Bank Group, we will have a full internal discussion over the coming months about discrimination more broadly and how it would affect our projects and our gay and lesbian staff members. My view is that the fight to eliminate all institutionalized discrimination is an urgent task.
Norway, Demark and the Netherlands announced this week that they are cutting a combined US$27 million in aid to the Ugandan government. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the State Department is currently reviewing its relationship with Uganda. The U.S. currently gives more that $486 million in bilateral aid.
Meanwhile, Museveni is seeking alternative benefactors. He may find one in Russia:
President Museveni has said he will work with Russians because they don’t meddle in the internal affairs of other countries. …[W]hile commissioning a new flight simulator at the air force headquarters in Entebbe on Friday, Mr Museveni told Obama to stop interfering in the affairs of Uganda, adding he will work with Russia instead of America. “Russia has worked in Africa since 1917, meaning they have been here for more than 100 years. I want to work with Russia because they don’t mix up their politics with other country’s politics,” Mr Museveni said.