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Posts for February, 2014

Kerry: Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law Similar to Apartheid and Nazism

Jim Burroway

February 27th, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking to a group of reporters yesterday, called Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act “atrocious” and likened it to the Nazi-era Nuremberg and South Africa’s Apartheid laws:

“You could change the focus of this legislation to black or Jewish and you could be in 1930s Germany or you could be in 1950s-1960s apartheid South Africa,” Kerry told a group of reporters. “It was wrong there egregiously in both places and it is wrong here,” he added.

…”What is happening in Uganda is atrocious and it presents all of us with an enormous challenge because LGBT rights are human rights and the signing of this anti-homosexuality law is flat out morally wrong,” Kerry said.

“This anti-gay movement is obviously bubbling up in various places around the world; it is not just an African problem, it’s a global problem, and we are wrestling with it and we are going to as we go forward.

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. Norway, Demark and the Netherlands have announced that they are cutting their aid to the Ugandan government. Those three countries collectively had been spending $27 million in aid to Uganda. The value of the Ugandan Shilling has slid more than 2% since President Yoweri Museveni signed the legislation on Monday.

US Ambassador to Uganda: We Will Block Visas for Ugandans Who “Propagate Hate”

Jim Burroway

February 26th, 2014

Scott DeLisi, U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, reacted to yesterday’s vigilante campaign launched by the tabloid Red Pepper. In an interview with the BBC World Service, DeLisi said that the U.S. is looking into denying visas to Ugandans who incite violence and hatred:

“We as a government … are appalled by the course that the Red Pepper has chosen,” DeLisi said. “What they do within their society I may not be able to control, but I can tell you they will not be welcome in the United States of America…. Visas can be denied for people who incite violence, people who propagate hate, who have used political violence. There are many bases on which we can deny a visa. And I can tell you that we will be examining all of these issues as we move forward.”

Meanwhile, the Red Pepper campaign continues for a second day.

Uganda starts to feel cost of anti-homosexuality bill

Timothy Kincaid

February 26th, 2014

President Yawari Museveni has barely signed the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Bill and already the nation’s economy is experiencing the consequence. (Bloomberg)

Uganda’s shilling fell the most since March 2012 against the dollar after donors started cutting aid after President Yoweri Museveni signed a law that imposes life sentences on some homosexual acts.

Museveni signed the law on Feb. 24 after scientists in Uganda found no genetic link to homosexuality. Uganda’s shilling has dropped for three straight days, paring gains in Africa’s third-best performing currency this year. The currency of East Africa’s third-biggest economy fell 2.2 percent to 2,513 per dollar by 6:57 pm. in Kampala, the capital.

As nations cut off foreign aid to Uganda, the bite is immediate. But perhaps more concerning for political stability is the impact the legislation can have on future investment.

Global companies which do business in the West rely on a gay friendly image and investment in Uganda can be perceived as social irresponsibility. Additionally, they increasingly accept and promote gay employees and can be reluctant to be involved in nations where their employees may be at risk or whose policies complicate personnel strategies.

“In the long run, foreign-direct investment could be withdrawn, which will have a bigger impact than the donor aid,” Jacques Nel, an economist at NKC Independent Economists in Paarl, South Africa, said by phone. The law “creates increased risk that companies may no longer invest in the country or invest less,” he said.

Norway, Denmark, Netherlands Cut Aid to Uganda

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014

Three European nations moved swiftly after Uganda president Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law:

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said his country would withhold about $8 million in aid, saying the law violates “fundamental human rights,” TheLocal.no reported Tuesday.

“Norway deeply regrets that Uganda’s president today signed a new and stricter law against homosexuality,” Brende said in a statement Monday. “It will worsen the situation of an already vulnerable group, and criminalize individuals and organizations working for the rights of sexual minorities.”

…Danish Aid Minister Mogens Jensen indicated his country would divert about $9 million in aid earmarked for Uganda, TheLocal.no said.

Dutch Foreign Trade and Aid Minister Lilianne Ploumen and Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans said the $9.6 million aid money sent annually to the Ugandan government to improve its judicial system will be stopped, DutchNews.nl reported. Justice Ministry official Teeven said the Netherlands would be flexible on granting asylum to homosexuals from Uganda now that the “draconian” measures were in effect.

Sweden has announced that they are considering redirecting its planned $10.7 million in aid to Uganda. Britain had already suspended all direct aid to Uganda in 2012 following a massive embezzlement scandal in the Ugandan Prime Minister’s office.

The U.S. and Canada say they are reviewing their options. Sen. Patrick Leahy earlier today issued a statement saying he “cannot support providing further funding to the Government of Uganda” until the State Department’s review is complete.

Sen. Leahy Calls For Review of All Ugandan Assistance

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) issues this statement earlier today:

I am deeply concerned by the decision of President Museveni of Uganda to sign into law the anti-homosexuality bill.  I support Secretary of State Kerry and others in calling for its immediate repeal.  Much of U.S. assistance to Uganda is for the people of Uganda, including those in the Ugandan LGBT community whose human rights are being so tragically violated.  But we need to closely review all U.S. assistance to Uganda, including through the World Bank and other multilateral organizations.  I cannot support providing further funding to the Government of Uganda until the United States has undergone a review of our relationship.

Sen. Leahy is Chairman of the State Department and Foreigh Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

 

Scott Lively: Uganda’s New Law Won’t Be So Bad

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014

20140225-123444.jpgScott Lively, whose “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda” he set off in Kampala in 2009 set the stage for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill becoming law, has issued a statement in response to the bill’s signing. Lively now says that he believes that Uganda has taken the “wrong approach in dealing with simple homosexuality” and offers Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” law as “a better model for other nations of the world.” Besides, he says, the effects of Uganda’s new law won’t be so bad:

As a final point I think it is important for people to recognize that the Ugandan law is typical of African criminal law across the continent. 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.

He should try telling that to the 200 or so people who woke this morning to see their names, addresses and occupations published in Red Pepper.

VIDEO: Ugandan TV Covers the Five Year History of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014
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VIDEO: Ssempa, Kyazze Celebrate Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014
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Pastor Michael Kyazze of the Omega Healing Center, a Kampala church, celebrates President Yoweri Museveni’s signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law:

“A law of love, a law of order has been signed, and your future since will be better than what other perpetrators were trying to promote. There is no one who is going to kill homosexuals. No one is going to kill the homosexuals, the law doesn’t say so, but the law says the habit itself is unnatural and the habit itself, if it is promoted by anyone, that person is liable for punishment.

Pastor Martin “Eat Da Poo-Poo” Ssempa also celebrates:

“The biggest problem here is confusion. Homosexuals are boys who think they are girls, and girls who think they are boys. So the issue is they want to confuse us, but Africa said, “No confusion!”

In October of 2012, Ssempa, Kyazze, and three others were convicted by a Uganda court of conspiring to tarnish a rival pastor’s reputation by accusing him of homosexuality.

NTV also interviews other Ugandan officials and reviews reactions from retired South African Desmund TuTu and and the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay.

VIDEO: Ugandan Morning TV Devotes Segment to Anti-Homosexuality Bill Debate

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014
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In this video, Morning @NTVhost Simon Kasyate dues his best to referee a debate between and Anti-Homosexuality Act support and virulently anti-gay pentecostal pastor Martin “Eat Da Poo-Poo” Ssempa, and virulently anti-gay pentecostal pastor but Anti-Homosexuality Act opponent Solomon Male, who calls it “a populist bill, it is opportunistic, it is based on nepotism, and it is based on lies.” Male’s still as anti-gay as ever though. One of his objection now seems centered on an incorrect reading of Uganda’s gener-neutral law against pedophilia which madates the death penalty for anyone convicted of child sexual abuse. Male contends that with the removal of the death penalty from the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, that homosexual child abusers (as though they are the only kind of homosexuals in existence) will now have a lesser penalty than heterosexual child abusers. In 2012, Solomon voiced his opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, accusing security agencies of covering up for prominent people who were supposedly “luring” children in to homosexuality and calling it “a waste of precious time, financial and other resources that should have been applied more productively elsewhere.”

Ssempa counters that Uganda “has joined the group of superpower nations such as Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, in taking a strong stand against sodomy.” Ssempa has designs to take the bill to the parliament of the East African Community and then to the African Union.

Male is a former Ssempa ally. In October of 2012, Male and Ssempa were convicted by a Uganda court of conspiring to tarnish a rival pastor’s reputation by accusing him of homosexuality.

VIDEO: Ugandan TV Coverage of Signing of Anti-Gay Bill, Reactions from Supporters

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014
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MP David Bahati, who introduced the private member’s bill into Parliament, reacted to the signing:

This is a victory for the family of Uganda, the future of our children and certainly a triumph of our sovereignty as a country that got independence fifty years ago.

Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo (a defrocked Catholic priest) dismissed the potential international fallout from the bill:

Because I know any sensible person will take this positively and say, oh, this bill as asserted their position, they’ve asserted their mind, and let’s respect them as they are and we’ll continue relating.

The NTV report erroneously states that first-time offenders against the new Anti-Homosexuality Act “would face up to fourteen years in jail.” In fact, the final act as signed into law sets a penalty of lifetime imprisonment regardless if whether it is a first conviction or not.

Ugandan Tabloid Sparks Vigilante Campaign

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014

Named on the front page: LGBT activist Sam Ganafa, priest and gospel singer Fr. Anthony Musaala, popular singer Keko, and LGBT activist Victor Musaka.

 
Just one day after Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, the tabloid Red Pepper has launched a massive vigilante campaign on the front page of its latest edition. Four photos appear on the front page, with additional photos on the inside pages along with names, addresses and other identifying information on 200 people that the paper says is gay.

Two of the four front-page photos are of well-known LGBT rights activists. Sam Ganafa, executive director of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives and board chair for the Sexual Minorities Uganda coalition, had been arrested with four others by police last November and spent two weeks in jail and charged with “unnatural offenses,” which carried a potential lifetime imprisonment even without the Anti-Homosexuality act being in place. The five were finally released on bail, awaiting trial. Transgender rights activist Victor Musaka who won an important High Court case in 2008 which stemmed from his arrest and personal body examination by police seeking to determine his so-called “real” gender. The High Court issued a landmark ruling stating that police had violated his right to privacy and that the principles of equality and non-discrimination are applicable to the LGBT community.

The other two photos are of popular cultural figures in Uganda, Fr. Anthony Musaala and a hip-hop performer who goes by the stage name of Keko. Fr. Anthony Musaala is a recording artist known as “the singing priest.” In 2009, in the anti-gay hysteria stirred up by the infamous conference conducted by Scott Lively and two other American Evangelicals, Musaala was named by the Ugandan organization that sponsored Lively’s talk, and later by a lacky by a lacky of rival pastor Martin Ssempa. Musaala is a well-known figure and the Catholic church is seen as a rival to Uganda’s evangelical churches. Musaala’s name appeared in another tabloid’s outing campaign in 2010 when Sunday Onion (no relation to the satirical U.S. publication with a similar name) published his name and photo. Musaala has never publicly discussed his sexuality.

Keko experienced Red Pepper’s retaliation last week when Keko took to social media saying, “If Sevo signs the anti-homosexuality bill, we are always going to be third world. Development is tolerance.”

Red Pepper’s outing campaign this time takes up three interior pages with more names and photos of LGBT Ugandans. Some of the names and photos are well-known: Sexual Minorities Uganda executive director Frank Mugisha, transgender rights activist Pepe Julian Onziema, and Freedom and Roam Uganda executive director Jacqueline Kasha. Onziema told the Associated Press that he knew of six arrests since Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act yesterday. Police have confirmed two.

But the overwhelming number of those named by Red Pepper are private citizens and not well-known activists or celebrities. The names listed are often those of ordinary salespeople, shopkeepers, and ordinary employees of larger firms. The evidence for their alleged homosexuality is not given, and many, in fact, may not be gay or transgender.

Red Pepper’s web site is currently off-line as of this writing.

In 2011, the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) published a list of names and photos of LGBT Ugandans under the headline “Hang Them!” One of the photos to appear on the front page was that of LGBT rights activist David Kato, who was a spokesperson for Sexual Minorities Uganda. Kato and others sued the tabloid and won a court order barring the tabloid from publishing any more names and photos as part of an outing campaign. The tabloid’s publisher, Giles Muhame and advertising manager Cliff Abenaitwe both attended Martin Ssempa’s Makerere Community Church. Just three weeks after that court victory, Kato was found bludgeoned to death in his home.

Red Pepper has has a long history of stoking anti-gay vigilante campaigns. In April 2009, just one month after Scott Lively’s 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 accused of homosexuality. Red Pepper followed in December with another so-called “exposé” of “city tycoons who bankroll Ugandan homos.”

VIDEO: Museveni Speaks To Reporters After Signing Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2014
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You can see the live signing beginning at about the 53:00 minute mark. You can read President Yoweri Museveni’s prepared remarks here, although he made several significant departures from his prepared remarks from time to time. At one point, he asked his scientists to introduce themselves individually.

Kerry: We Will Review Our Relationship With Uganda, Including Assistance Programs

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2014

The State Department released this statement from Secretary of State John Kerry:

This is a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights. Ultimately, the only answer is repeal of this law.

The United States is deeply disappointed in the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. For the four years since the bill was introduced, we have been crystal clear that it blatantly violates human rights obligations that Uganda’s Human Rights Commission itself has recognized are enshrined in Uganda’s Constitution

Today’s signing threatens a dangerous slide backward in Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and a serious threat to the LGBT community in Uganda.

We are also deeply concerned about the law’s potential to set back public health efforts in Uganda, including those to address HIV/AIDS, which must be conducted in a non-discriminatory manner in order to be effective.

As President Obama stated, this legislation is not just morally wrong, it complicates a valued relationship. Now that this law has been enacted, we are beginning an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programs, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles and reflect our values.

From Nigeria to Russia and Uganda, we are working globally to promote and protect the human rights of all persons. The United States will continue to stand against any efforts to marginalize, criminalize, and penalize vulnerable persons in any society.

The White House Press Secretary adds:

Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward by signing into law legislation criminalizing homosexuality. As President Obama has said, this law is more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda, it reflects poorly on the country’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and will undermine public health, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. We will continue to urge the Ugandan government to repeal this abhorrent law and to advocate for the protection of the universal human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda and around the world.

Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law Can Imprison You Forever Just For Opposing It

Rob Tisinai

February 24th, 2014

Media reports are understating the horror of Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law. For instance, from the Associated Press:

It sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults and acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner is infected with HIV.

In fact, it’s much worse than that. In fact, Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law can put you away for life just for opposing Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law.

The logic is pretty simple:

  • The law says: “A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for life.”
  • One way of committing aggravated homosexuality is to be a “serial offender” against the law.
  • A serial offender is “a person who has previous convictions of the offence of homosexuality or related offences.”
  • Related offences include a variety of things, like counseling someone to have gay sex; getting same-sex married; or “promotion of homosexuality,” a grab bag covering any activity that:
    • “funds or sponsors homosexuality or other related activities” or
    • “offers premises and other related fixed or movable assets for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality” or
    • “uses electronic devices which include internet, films, mobile phones for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality” or
    • “acts as an accomplice or attempts to promote or in anyway abets homosexuality and related practices.”

The penalties vary for a single related-offence violation, but if you’re convicted of a combination of these offences, or convicted of one offence multiple times, then you’re a serial offender, guilty of aggravated homosexuality, and subject to life imprisonment. So if you speak out against this law, and you keep speaking out against it, then you’re someone who “attempts to promote or in anyway abets homosexuality and related practices.” On your second or third conviction they can put you away for life.

This law is worse than the news accounts are making it out to be. It doesn’t just imprison gay people. It imposes a lifetime sentence on our allies, too. It doesn’t just make us into criminals and pariahs. It condemns anyone who might question this horrid law. It doesn’t just put Uganda in the dark ages. It’s built to keep the country there forever.

Britain Reacts

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2014

The British Foreign Ministry has issued this statement in reaction to Uganda’s enacting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill:

On 24 February 2014 William Hague said:

I am deeply saddened and disappointed that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda has been signed into law. The UK strongly opposes all discrimination on any grounds. We question the Bill’s compatibility with Uganda’s constitution and international treaty obligations. There can be no doubt that this Bill will increase persecution and discrimination of Ugandans, as well as damage Uganda’s reputation internationally.

We ask the Government of Uganda to protect all its citizens and encourage tolerance, equality and respect. We will continue to press the Government of Uganda to defend human rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds.

In 2011, British Prime Minister David Cameron warned  Uganda that countries which persecute gay people will find their foreign aid budget cut.

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