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Posts for June, 2010

Vanity Fair: Uganda Parliament To Discuss Anti-Gay Bill This Week

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2010

Alexis Okeowo at Vanity Fair discloses:

Though widespread international criticism, especially from the United States, derailed the bill in its original form and forced Uganda to drop its death-penalty provision, parliament is set to discreetly pass amendments that would prevent all residents and local and international non-profit organizations from “promoting,” advocating, or associating any of their activities with homosexuality.

The punishment would effectively end all health and sexuality programs geared towards gays and lesbians, allow the government to round up and punish activists at will, and make it essentially illegal for gays to exist.

“I don’t think it’s going to be withdrawn, I don’t think it’s going to stay on the shelves, I think it’s going to pass,” [LGBT Advocate Frank] Mugisha tells me bluntly and calmly as he sips from his soda at an open-air bar in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. “We know now that they’re working on something new—they want to water the bill down and raise it again in a new form.” The bill’s most controversial elements—those criminalizing sexual practices or an H.I.V./AIDS diagnosis—are being scrapped to deflect the attention of critics so that the rest of the bill can pass. Parliament, which opened in early June, will be discussing the measure this week.

This appears to confirm earlier reports suggesting that Uganda’s political leaders will try to pass portions of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill quietly and in piecemeal form so as to escape notice from critics. One report indicated that the Cabinet subcommittee tasked with examining the bill observed that Clause 13, the section outlawing “promotion of homosexuality” had “some merit.” It is this provision that health care workers point to as potentially criminalizing providing health services to LGBT people.

The fact that Parliament is expected to take up the measure again this week suggests that, despite the Cabinet’s recommendations, the bill has experienced a new lease on life. Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, recently wrote that the bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, along with his assistant, Pastor Julius Oyet, were “ecstatic at what they perceived as [American pastor Lou] Engle’s strong support of the bill.” Their ecstasy was stoked by Engle’s rally in Kampala held on May 2. Engle is on record as supporting criminalization of homosexuality, along with measures “to not allow it to be legalized, so to speak, so then it just spreads through the legal system of the nation.”

Ugandan LGBT Activist To Tour Eastern US

Jim Burroway

March 18th, 2010

I just received this announcement from the good folks at Political Research Associates. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend any of these events. But if you are anywhere near these venues, I strongly urge that you go and listen to Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda to talk about the connection between U.S. conservative religious forces and increased harassment of LGBT people in Uganda.


Frank Musgisha, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) spokesperson, will appear at several public events in New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C. this month to explain the connection between U.S. conservative religious forces and increased harassment of LGBT people in Uganda .

Mr. Mugisha is visiting the United States to publicize the crisis in LGBT human rights in Uganda. Conservative religious leaders from the United States have targeted African nations such as Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria as anti-gay arenas where they can encourage support of homophobic sentiment at home. African LGBT people have suffered discrimination in the form of “collateral damage” from these campaigns. While it is already illegal to be a homosexual in Uganda, pending legislation would make it punishable even to know an LGBT person and not to report them to the authorities.

Mr. Mugisha was among the first gay Ugandans to come out in order to challenge the myth that homosexuals do not exist in Uganda. The law that prohibits homosexuality in Uganda has successfully keeping LGBT people in the closet. He is among those whose names were printed in the Ugandan media, after which he lost jobs, friends and family. He has faced hostility, threats, arrests, intimidation, and discrimination for his fight for the recognition of gay rights in Uganda. Mr. Mugisha has worked internationally with religious leaders, NGOs, and diplomatic missions to stop the latest anti-homosexuality bill and is a moving speaker on international human rights.

He will be accompanied by Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, author of the recent report published by Political Research Associates, Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches , and Homophobia. Rev. Kaoma attended the infamous anti-gay conference in Uganda in March 2009, collecting video footage undercover. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show, been cited in media such as the New York Times, Time, and Newsweek, and he has testified before Congress and the UN on how US evangelicals are exporting homophobia to Africa.

Frank Mugisha appearances:

March 22; 6-7:30 pm
Astraea Foundation
116 East 16th St.
New York, NY 10003
(212) 529-8021

March 23; 7-9 pm
The Riverside Church
490 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10027
(212) 870-6700

March 26; 7-9 pm
Harvard Epworth UMC Church
1555 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 354-0837

March 27; 12-2 pm
Cathedral Church of St. Paul
138 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 482-5800

March 30; 7-9 pm
Foundry UMC Church
1500 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 332-4010

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