Uganda Parliament To Adjourn Until February
December 14th, 2012
The Second Meeting of the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament is expected to Adjourn today without bringing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill up for debate. According to Warren Throckmorton, who spoke with a Parliament spokeswoman, Parliament will begin its Christmas break after today’s sitting and will return on February 4. There had been some speculation that Parliament may extend is session through next week, but with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga off galavanting in Italy meeting the Pope and attending a human rights conference — I kid you not — it looks like the prevailing opinion is that the earlier they can start their Christmas break, the better.
Which is just as well, because if today’s Order Paper is any indication (DOC: 41KB/2 pages), Parliament’s eagerness to take up the Anti-Homosexuality Bill appears to be waning. It has now fallen to number seven under “Notice of Business to Follow,” following some fairly mundane committee reports, after having held the top spot just two weeks ago.
Uganda Parliament Speaker suspends House sessions
November 28th, 2012
The contentious House session dealing with the assignment of control over the nation’s oil resources to the government (without oversight) ended on Monday when the Speaker stomped out the door. Now she is suspending sessions:
The Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Kadaga Rebecca has suspended sittings of the House and directed the Parliament Committee on Rules Privileges and Discipline to review the behaviour of MPs in Tuesday’s Sitting.
In her address to Parliament November 28, the Speaker described the conduct exhibited by Members in yesterday’s prematurely adjourned House as unparliamentarily, unruly and disorderly. She said the behaviour exhibited by some MPs was beneath the dignity and honour expected of Honourable Members.
She has directed the Rules, Privileges and Discipline Committee to review video of the session and report back on Monday with recommendations for punishment of unruly members.
Conflicting Reports Emerge About U.S. Sanctions Against Uganda
November 23rd, 2012
WBS Television in Uganda posted this YouTube report titled, “USA slaps travel ban on Speaker Kadaga over Anti-Gay Bill.” The report itself doesn’t address the travel ban, but a statement posted on the Parliament’s web site denies receiving any communication from the U.S. Mission in Kampala about any travel bans. Instead of describing specific sanctions, the WBS report merely speaks of unspecified sanctions “threatening the country and individuals.” M.P. Stephen Tashobya, who chairs the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee charged with holding hearings on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, says that some members of Parliament have received letters threatening sanctions.
As the demand for the anti-gay bill gains pace in the country, it appears the Western world is putting a fierce energy in ensuring that the anti-gay bill does not find its way into the law books of the country. U.S. President Barack Obama has reportedly expressed his discomfort with the proposal to criminalize homosexuality and lesbianism, threatening the country and individuals behind the move with grave sanctions.
“…To have had, I think, from two members of Parliament that they have received a letter from an assistant from the President of the U.S. expressing concern about the passing of the bill.”
(Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee Chairman Stephen) Tashobya however says that as the committee starts to scrutinize the proposals, it will collect views of both local and international stakeholders.
“First of all, any person anywhere in the world has the right to come in to give his views about this bill which is before Parliament.”
Same-sex practices are unpopular in the African context, but are considered a human right by activists in the West. The letter comes a few weeks after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga pledged to deliver the bill as a Christmas package to Ugandans.
Warren Throckmorton says that the State Department has denied that Obama has threatened sanctions.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Why Now?
November 21st, 2012
Since the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first introduced in Uganda’s Parliament in October 2009, it has been like a recurring bad dream. Like most recurring dreams, you don’t have this one every night; you only experience it when stressful events trigger its return. Over the past three years, we’ve seen the AHB dominate the headlines, then go dormant, and then come back whenever there are external or internal events which call for either a diversion or a handy weapon.
Did Britain threaten to cut off aid? Let’s revive the bill. Did a feisty opposition leader provoke a violent crackdown? Let’s bring back the bill. Did the American Secretary of State just declare that “gay rights are human rights“? Time to bring it back. Clinton’s speech before the United Nations in Geneva proved a handy pretext to re-introduce the bill into Parliament last February, but it has been languishing in committee since then.
So why the sudden impetus now? One Ugandan human rights leader sees one possibility:
But Kikonyogo Kivumbi, executive director of civil rights organisation Uhspa-Uganda, painted a different picture by describing the anti-gay legislation as a “political weapon” for the Ugandan dictatorship in its attempts to influence the UN.
“Uganda is using the bill to threaten and blackmail the West,” he told IBTimes UK. “They know that respect of human rights is a sensible subject in the West and they are using it to blackmail the international community.”
The activist added that the Ugandan government is furious at a UN report which claimed it was abetting rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report found that ministers in Kampala are supporting the M23 rebels “in the form of direct troop reinforcements in DRC territory, weapons deliveries, technical assistance, joint planning, political advice and facilitation of external relations”.
Kivumbi said. “When the report came out, the regime was furious and threatened to pull out of Somalia [where around 5,000 Ugandan troops are currently supporting the African Union's peace-keeping mission and curbing the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab].
“They are threatening the sovereignty of a state, Congo, using the Somalia deal which they consider a soft spot for the West.”
This news mostly escaped western notice, but the UN report was a huge deal in Uganda when it came out. President Yoweri Museveni was clearly stung by the report, and he has threatened to pull Ugandan troops out of its peacekeeping mission in Somalia, where they have played a central role in pushing armed clans out of Mogadishu. Ugandan authorities are also making a show of closing its border with Congo even as Congolese rebels have captured the strategic Eastern city of Goma.
That row over the Congo is only one of a long list of conflicts confronting the Ugandan government. Over the past few months, Britain, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden announced that they were cutting direct aid to the Ugandan government after learning that much of it went into the personal bank account of Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. Well gee, how did it get there?, he asked with feigned ignorance as he promptly found seventeen scapegoats to fire. Those scapegoats are now firing back. A similar scandal is reaching First Lady and Parliament Member Janet Museveni. And in yet another scandal, dozens of leaders have been caught in a US$650 million pension scam in which they registered thousands of so-called ”ghost pensioners” to skim payments off of the nation pension plan’s meager resources. In reaction to all that, the World Bank has now warned that it would review its aid to Uganda, and last weekend, Britain announced that it not just halted its direct aid, but had frozen all bilateral aid, including aid to NGO’s and Ugandan financial institutions as well. That’s a huge hit. Total bilateral aid for the year was set for £98.9 million (US$157 million).
(By the way, the nation’s clerics, sensing an opportunity, have called on foreign governments to bypass the kleptocracy and give the foreign aid directly to them. But obviously, Britain isn’t buying.)
Meanwhile, Uganda’s primary referral hospital, Mulago Hospital, was forced to close its intensive care unit due to lack of funds while the country continues to struggle with nodding disease (the government’s response included feeding its victims rotten food) and a fresh Ebola outbreak. But when anti-corruption activists tried to hold a meeting to demand accountability in government, police intervened and put a stop to it. And, by the way, foreigners are getting brand new identity cards soon. The only reason Ugandans aren’t getting new national identity cards is because that project, too, has been botched by corruption.
So with all that going on, why not throw the masses some tripe and bring up the Anti-Homosexuality Bill? The timing is obviously ripe for it. All that was needed was a pretext. And that came earlier this month when Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga went to Canada for an Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly and was present when Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird blasted Uganda’s human rights record. Baird particularly singled out the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the murder of Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato in January, 2011. Kadaga replied with an angry retort, complete with the usual appeals to Uganda’s sovereignty and denunciations of Western colonialism. When she returned home to Entebbe, she was greeted with a hero’s welcome. She then announced to the cheering crowds that Uganda, by God, would show the world it can’t be pushed around anymore.
Speaker Kadaga has emerged as a pivotal figure lately in Ugandan politics. Amid widespread discontent over Museveni’s determination to remain in office through media manipulation and constant crackdowns on the opposition, Kadaga’s fearless brashness plays like a breath of fresh air. Her longstanding position in the ruling National Resistance Movement doesn’t appear to hurt either, as that makes her both a practical and a plausable successor to Museveni should he accept calls to restore term limits when his current term ends in 2016, after which he will have been in power for more than thirty years.
Kadaga’s political instincts are sharp, and she knows a popular, career-enhancing platform when she sees one. She has been a supporter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill from the very beginning, and before that, for increased penalties for homosexuality. In April 2009, while Deputy Speaker, she presided over Parliament as M.P. David Bahati sought approval to submit an Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a private member’s bill. The bill failed to come to a vote before the Eight Parliament expired in May 2011.But after the Ninth Parliament elected her as Speaker, Kadaga promptly to engineered the bill’s reintroduction in February 2012. She is now pushing for its passage before Parliament breaks for Christmas on December 15. She says it will be a “Christmas gift” to the Ugandan people, and given the widespread homophobia in Ugandan society, the bill’s passage would only enhance Kadaga’s reputation further. And by the way, the bill’s passage under her leadership might, conveniently, help to quash rumors which surround the fact that, at age 56, Kadaga remains unmarried and without children in a country that takes these things very seriously.
So where is Museveni in all this? It’s usually right about now when a government spokesperson comes forward to tell us that the President or his cabinet has “rejected” the bill. But nobody from Museveni’s cabinet is throwing cold water on it this time. And it may well be that with all of the challenges that Museveni is facing, the bill’s passage, or even its mere threat, may serve Museveni’s interests as much as they serves Kadaga’s. If this bill is passed, she will get the credit — a good thing in domestic politics in the short term — because it will have her fingerprints all over it. But those fingerprints won’t dust off so easily in the long term when the country deals with the fallout with further reductions of foreign aid. That could be particularly damaging in the eyes of those who had supported her as a potential successor to Museveni, and that could play to Museveni’s long-term benefit.
None of this says that the bill’s passage is imminent, and none of its says that it’s not. That’s the tricky thing about trying to read the tea leaves in Uganda. The only thing that is certain is that it all comes down to whose interests are served best and how they are best served. If Kadaga passes the bill now, she will be a hero, for at least few months anyway. If its delayed again, then it’s still out there, ready to be acted on, until the Ninth Parliament expires in 2016. Either way, the larger message has gone out: leave us alone or the gays gets it.
Uganda Parliament Speaker Demands Anti-Gay Bill Be Brought to House Floor on Tuesday
November 16th, 2012
Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, today reports that Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has demanded that Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee bring Anti-Homosexuality Bill to the House floor for debate and a vote by next Tuesday:
The committee chairperson, Mr Stephen Tashobya, passed on Ms Rebecca Kadaga’s directive to committee members yesterday as he summoned them to attend next week’s session in person “to have the Bill concluded”.<
In her November 13 letter, the Speaker advised Mr Tashobya to be mindful of what she said was the high demand by the public to address homosexuality.
“I write to reiterate my earlier instruction to your committee to expeditiously handle the review of the report on the Bill. As you are aware, there is high demand by the population to address the escalating problem of promoting and recruiting minors into homosexuality,” the letter reads in part.
“This is therefore to inform you that I shall place the Bill on the Order Paper immediately after conclusion of the Oil Bills,” she wrote. Parliament is concluding consideration of the Petroleum (Exploration, Production and Development) Bill as the House breaks off for Christmas recess on December 15, which suggests that after the Bill is hopefully completed by next Tuesday, MPs can expect to debate and probably pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
On Monday, Kadaga called for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which still includes a death penalty for gay people under certain circumstances, to be brought to a vote and passed within two weeks.
Major Uganda Broadcaster Turns Cheerleader for Anti-Homosexuality Bill
November 12th, 2012
Uganda’s NTV is normally a reasonably reliable source of information, but this report suggests that the influential independent channel may have become yet another cheerleading outlet promoting the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Toward the end of NTV’s coverage of a rally by religious leaders in Uganda’s parliament (featured speakers included former Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo and M.P. David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor), the announcer attributes the bill’s failure in the Eighth Parliament to pressure from “western countries and wealthy gay activists.” The announcer also describes the bill this way:
2:10: The bill originally proposed a death sentence for adults found guilty of raping young boys, but has since been revised to life imprisonment.
The entire statement is patently false: the death sentence went far beyond those found guilty of “raping young boys.” In fact, a careful reading of the bill’s language makes clear that just about anyone convicted of homosexuality or related crimes (a frighteningly broad category) stands a good chance of being charged with so-called “aggravated homosexuality.”
The second part of the statement, claiming that the death penalty has been shelved, is also a boldfaced lie. In May of 2011, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended a sly change to the bill, removing the explicit language of “suffer(ing) death,” and replacing it with a reference to the penalties provided in an unrelated law which already exists. That law specifies the death penalty, which means that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended that the death penalty be retained through stealth. Bahati then went on to claim that the death penalty was removed even though it was still a part of the bill. The Eighth Parliament ended before it could act on the committee’s recommendation. On February 7, 2012, the original version of the bill, unchanged from when it was first introduced in 2009, was reintroduced into the Ninth Parliament. The bill was again sent to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. Despite reports to the contrary, the original language specifying the death penalty is still in the bill, and will remain there unless the committee recommends its removal and Parliament adopts that recommendation in a floor vote. To date, that has not occurred.
NTV, which is owned by the same media outlet which publishes Daily Monitor, has generally been a reputable broadcaster. That it should now misrepresent the bill’s penalty while attributing its earlier failure, without evidence, to “wealthy gay activists,” is a distressing turn of events.
Report: Uganda’s Speaker Promises To Pass Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Two Weeks (UPDATED)
November 12th, 2012
Speaker (Rebecca) Kadaga committed herself during a meeting with a coalition of religious, political, cultural leaders held at parliament where she said that Uganda is an independent country which operates under its constitution. We should stop dancing on the tune of western countries. We have the right to reject any things which is against our culture.
“Am going to allow Hon Bahati to proceed with his bill and make sure that it is passed within the period of two weeks. As leaders we should listen to the voice of our people. It is our responsibility to protect our country against homosexuality ,our value, culture and character” Speaker Kadaga noted
Elsewhere religious, cultural and political leader said that all homosexual practitioners in Uganda should be killed because homosexual is not allowed in Uganda.
“It is an abomination in Uganda for a man to marry a fellow man and a woman to get married to her fellow woman. We strongly condemn and oppose the devil called homosexuality on our soil. As religious, cultural leaders we urge the Uganda’s brave (Kadaga) to be strong, farm and courageous while fighting Homosexual in Uganda. The Western world should take their moral behaviors away from Africa Uganda in particular” Religious leaders noted.
I am not familiar with Uganda Picks, so I can’t comment on the report’s veracity. Warren Throckmorton writes, “the basic news that the Parliament is set to act on the bill is consistent with what I am hearing from sources in Uganda.” It also confirms a report made earlier this month by Daily Monitor, a much more reputable independent newspaper, which quoted the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee Chair Steven Tashobya as saying that his committee will be ready to report the bill back to the House floor before Parliament breaks for Christmas.
[Update: The Associated Press is now picking up on the story:
Ugandans "are demanding it," (Kadaga) said, reiterating a promise she made before a meeting on Friday of anti-gay activists who spoke of "the serious threat" posed by homosexuals to Uganda's children. Some Christian clerics at the meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, asked the speaker to pass the law as "a Christmas gift."
..."Who are we not to do what they have told us? These people should not be begging us," Kadaga said of activists who want the bill to become law.]
M.P. David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, now chairs the ruling party’s caucus in Parliament. But unlike in previous periods of intense discussions about the bill, his present media silence has been conspicuous. Kadaga, a long-time supporter of the bill, appears to have taken the public role of pushing for the bill’s passage. In early 2009, she advocated for for increased criminal penalties for homosexuality. She presided over Parliament in April 2009 in her role as Deputy Speaker when MP David Bahati sought approval to submit an Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a private member’s bill, and she was an early supporter after it was first introduced into Parliament in October. After the previous parliament expired before it could bring the bill up for a vote, Kadega helped to engineer the bill’s reintroduction, with the death penalty intact, in the current Parliament.
If the bill does come back up for a vote, past experience suggests that there will be a great deal of misinformation about what the bill would do. I would suggest you keep these links handy:
Clause By Clause With Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
Clauses 1 and 2: Anybody Can Be Gay.
Clause 3: Anyone Can Be “Liable To Suffer Death”
Clause 4: Anyone Can “Attempt to Commit Homosexuality”
Clauses 5 and 6: Anyone Can Be A Victim (And Get Out Of Jail Free If You Act Fast)
Clauses 7 and 14: Anyone Can “Aid And Abet”
Clauses 8 to 10: A Handy Menu For “Victims” To Choose From
Clauses 11, 14, 16 and 17: Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide
Clause 12: Till Life Imprisonment Do You Part
Clause 13: The Silencing of the Lambs
Clause 14: The Requirement Isn’t Only To Report Gay People To Police. It’s To Report Everyone.
Clauses 15 and 19: The Establishment Clauses For The Ugandan Inquisition
Uganda Parliament May Vote On Anti-Homosexuality Bill By Christmas
November 1st, 2012
According to this morning’s Daily Monitor:
Parliament yesterday passed a resolution in recognition of Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s stand on homosexuality. The House also urged the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee to immediately table its report on the Bill for general debate.
The committee’s chairperson Steven Tashobya yesterday said their report is almost done and will be brought to Parliament before it breaks off for Christmas recess. MPs across the political divide in a plenary session chaired by Ms Kadaga denounced homosexuality and said the country’s moral values are threatened by cultural inventions from the western world.
…The MP for Kinkiizi West, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, moved the motion that was overwhelmingly supported by legislators who committed themselves to passing the anti-homosexuality Bill.
“I rise to add my voice to state clearly that you represented Uganda effectively in Canada. You represented our right to do what we want to do as a country. We have made a point very clearly that we abide by the country’s Constitution which guarantees the right of members and back benchers to move private members Bills and MP Bahati exercised that right,” said Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.
This latest push to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill comes as part of a broader backlash against remarks by Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird, who condemned Uganda’s proposed legislation to impose the death penalty for gay people. The bill would also impose criminal penalties for all advocacy on behalf of gay people, providing lodging and services to gay people, and even knowing someone who is gay and failing to report it to police. The last time the Anti-Homosexuality Bill made it through the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, it emerged with only a few minor tweaks while adding a new crime of “conduct[ing] a marriage ceremony between persons of the same sex,” punishable by three years in prison.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga was an early supporter for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and before that, for increased penalties for homosexuality. She presided over Parliament in April 2009 in her role as Deputy Speaker when MP David Bahati sought approval to submit an Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a private member’s bill. She helped to engineer the bill’s reintroduction in the current parliament after the previous parliament expired before it could be brought to a vote.
Uganda’s Parliament Speaker Promises to Revive Anti-Homosexuality Bill
October 31st, 2012
Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga returned home to Entebbe Airport to a hero’s welcome after attending a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Quebec, Canada. The rally at Entebbe’s airport was organized by religious leaders, former Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, and Anti-Homosexuality Bill sponsor M.P. David Bahati. She told supporters and the press that she would instruct the chair of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee “to quickly bring the report on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill” to the House floor for a vote.
Kadaga was also defiant in the face of threats by several foreign governments to withhold aid and visas if the bill passes. “If the price of aid is going to be the promotion of homosexuality in this country,” she told supporters, “I think we don’t want that aid.”
Kadega made those remarks in response to criticisms by Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird over Uganda’s proposal to execute gay people and for its refusal to protect LGBT people in the country. As Uganda’s independent Daily Monitor reported last Thursday:
She told IPU organisers that she was not aware that the assembly had been summoned to promote gay rights.
Earlier, at the inaugural plenary on Monday, Mr Baird had demonised Uganda on allegations of persecuting sexual minorities. The Foreign Minister referred to the specific incident of gay-rights activist David Kato, who was bludgeoned to death in January 2011.
Responding to the unprovoked Baird attack, Ms Kadaga said: “When we came for this Assembly, to which we were invited, we expected respect for our sovereignty, our values and our country … “I, therefore, on behalf of the Ugandan delegation, and, indeed, the people of Uganda, protest in the strongest terms the arrogance exhibited by the Foreign Minister of Canada, who spent most of his time attacking Uganda and promoting homosexuality.”
…For that matter, Ms Kadaga said: “If homosexuality is a value for the people of Canada they should not seek to force Uganda to embrace it. We are not a colony or a protectorate of Canada. The subject under discussion is ‘Citizenship, Identity and Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in a Globalised World’, please stick to it.”
No Ugandan politician has ever lost anything by resorting to appeals to Uganda’s sovereignty. Until just fifty years ago, Uganda was a British colony subject to the whims of a (white) government on a different continent and more than four thousand miles away. Uganda recently celebrated is fiftieth anniversary this past summer. On Friday, Daily Monitor reported that Kadaga’s comments were receiving considerable support from among its readers:
By press time, Ms Kadaga’s retort carried in the Daily Monitor yesterday had attracted numerous comments on this newspaper’s web site with most of them applauding her for defending the culture, values and norms of Ugandans from “Western cultural perversion”.
In one of the comments, an online reader writes: “Hahaha!! I have read so many of these forums but trust me, I have never seen so many comments yet all speaking with a single voice! Kudos Ugandans, I am proud of all of ya (sic). It means all is not lost of our society.”
The incident in Quebec also elicited this comment from the government:
Weighing in on the diplomatic spat, State minister for International Relations Henry Okello Oryem said the position of government is that sodomy is a crime and that Uganda does not persecute sexual minorities. “We have no business with the people who are behind closed doors but those who flaunt sexual activities in public will be dealt with,” Mr Oryem said.
Mr Okello Oryem observed that in Britain – Uganda’s former colonial master – the law books described “sodomy as a crime long before Uganda even got its independence”.
Ugandan police have routinely shut down conferences in which human rights for gay people were a topic of conversation, including a workshop in Entebbe in February and another conference in June. Speaker Kadaga promised then that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would be taken up in the next session of Parliament. The Second Session of Parliament has been meeting since August.
In September, British national David Cecil was arrested and charged with “disobeying lawful orders” when he staged a pro-gay play at a small theater in a Kampala suburb after the Media Centre refused to allow him to mount the production at the National Theatre. Cecil was released on bail pending trial, where he faces the possibility of two years in prison.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was reintroduced into Parliament last February and referred to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for possible modifications. When the same committee considered the bill in May of 2011, the committee recommended a sly change to the bill, removing the explicit language of “suffer(ing) death,” and replacing it with a reference to the penalties provided in an unrelated already existing law. That law however specifies the death penalty. Which means that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee actually recommended that the death penalty be retained through stealth while the bill’s supporters publicly stated that the penalty had been removed. The previous Eighth Parliament expired before the house could vote on the committee’s recommendations. After the Ninth Parliament convened, the original language of the bill, including its death penalty, was reintroduced and referred back to the same committee.
TODAY: Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Being Re-Introduced In Parliament
February 7th, 2012
It is now early evening in Kampala, and in an apparent sign of the Parliament’s lack of transparency, today’s Order Paper is still not posted on the Parliament’s web site. However, a copy has been making the rounds on the Internet, showing that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009, is scheduled for its first reading today. Warren Throckmorton has info on the bill’s path going forward:
According to a person in the plenary session of Parliament, Speaker Kadaga said the bills renewed from the 8th Parliament will be read for the first time today but reports on the bills from the 8th Parliament will be used as a basis for moving toward a 2nd reading and debate. If true, this means that the time from first reading to second reading, debate and possible passage will be much shorter than would be true if a new bill was introduced.
Based on reports from Parliament in October, 2011, it was anticipated that the anti-gay measure would be considered by the new Parliament without repeating the first reading. During the October 2011 session, the Parliament voted to return unfinished business from the 8th Parliament to the current session. At that time, Kawesa said that Speaker of the House Rebecca Kadaga’s Business committee could recommend that the anti-gay bill go back to committee or it could recommend that the former committee report become the basis for debate in the Parliament. Based on the Kawesa’s statement today, the bill is starting over in committee.
The bill’s original text, combined with the recommendations of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, would look something like this:
- Clause 1: Expand the definitions for homosexual acts, making conviction easier. Current law requires evidence of penetration. The new law would expand the definition of homosexual activity to”touch(ing) another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” Touching itself is defined as “touching—(a) with any part of the body; (b) with anything else; (c) through anything; and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ. anus or mouth.”
- Clause 2: Affirm Uganda’s lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality.
- Clause 3: Define a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality” for those who engage in sex with someone under the age of 18, who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender” (so broadly defined as to include anyone who has had a relationship with more than one person, or who had sex with the same person more than once), or who had sex with a disabled person (consensual or not). The penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is death by hanging. It also requires anyone arrested on suspicion of homosexuality to undergo HIV testing to determine the individual’s qualification for prosecution of “aggravated homosexuality.” NOTE: The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended changing the wording on this bill to obfuscate the provision’s penalty by referring simply to the penalty provided by an unrelated law. However, the penalty for that law is death. In other words, despite numerous false reports to the contrary, the death penalty remains in place.
- Clause 4: Criminalize “attempted homosexuality” with imprisonment for seven years. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended eliminating this clause.
- Clause 5: Provide for compensation to the “victim” of homosexuality, which would provide incentives for even a consensual partner in a relationship to later claim “victim” status in order to save his or her own life and freedom by pressing charges against the other partner.
- Clause 6: Guarantee anonymity to people making accusations.
- Clause 7: Criminalize “aiding and abetting homosexuality” with seven years imprisonment. This provision could be used against anyone extending counseling, medical care, or otherwise providing aide gay people. Criminalize “promoting” homosexuality with fines and imprisonment for between five and seven years. This overly-broad provision would criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda . It would also criminalize any attempt to repeal or modify the law in the future, as those moves could also be seen as “promoting” homosexuality. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended eliminating this clause.
- Clause 8: Criminalize the conspiracy to commit homosexuality “by any means of false pretence or other fraudulent means with seven years imprisonment. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended eliminating this clause.
- Clause 9: Criminalize “procuring homosexuality by threats” (No penalty specified).
- Clause 10: Criminalize “detention with intent to commit homosexuality” with seven years imprisonment.
- Clause 11: Penalize people who run “brothels” with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people. However, it defines a brothel as “a house, room, set of rooms or place of any kind for the purposes of homosexuality” instead of the more normal definition of a place where commercial sex work takes place. Anyone’s bedroom would be a “brothel” under this definition, placing landlords and hotel owners in jeopardy for renting to LGBT people.
- Clause 12: Criminalize the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
- Clause 13: Criminalize “promoting” homosexuality with fines and imprisonment for between five and seven years. This overly-broad provision would criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda . It would also criminalize any attempt to repeal or modify the law in the future, as those moves could also be seen as “promoting” homosexuality. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee found this clause would “create problems,” although it is unclear whether the committee recommended its removal.
- Clause 14: Require friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment for up to three years.
- Clause 15: Reserve trials for “Aggravated homosexuality” for Uganda’s High Court. All other can be tried by magistrates.
- Clause 16: Make the law applicable to all Ugandans living or visiting abroad via an extra-territorial clause. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended eliminating this clause.
- Clause 17: Subject persons living abroad to extradition. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended eliminating this clause.
- Clause 18: Void all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended eliminating this clause.
- POTENTIALLY NEW CLAUSE: The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended the creation of an additional crime, “conduct[ing] a marriage ceremony between persons of the same sex,” punishable by three years in prison, which was not in the original draft.
I am attempting to find a copy of the bill as it currently exists. According to procedure, if a bill is being introduced in Parliament for its first reading, then it is supposed to be published in the Uganda Gazette.
Report: Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill To Be Discussed In Parliament Next Week
February 3rd, 2012
In a letter to MPs on the committee from the office of the Clerk to Parliament, the meeting slated for Monday next week is expected to consider the legislative programme for the 3rd meeting of the 1st session of the 9th Parliament.
The Business Committee is presided over by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who is believed to be a bill supporter. Membership also includes the “Leader of Government Business,” although the Parliament’s web site doesn’t specify who that is. M.P. David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, is also the acting head of the ruling party’s caucus, and that position might give him a presence at that meeting.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was revived at the start of the Ninth Parliament after the Eight Parliament expired before bringing it to a final vote. Shortly before the end of the Eight Parliament, there were false reports that the death penalty provisions were about to be removed from the bill. In fact, no changes have been made to the bill itself because Parliament expired before proposed changes could be voted on. But even if those proposed changes had been accepted by Parliament, the death penalty would have remained firmly in place.
Kenya’s Chief Justice: “Gay Rights Are Human Rights”
February 1st, 2012
A video appeared on YouTube yesterday showing Kenya’s Chief Justice Willy Mutunga declaring that “gay rights are human rights.” The remarks were delivered on September 8, 2011 at a groundbreaking ceremony for FIDA Uganda, a Ugandan organization of Women Lawyers. FIDA Uganda was among the organizations which denounced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
The Chief Justice’s speech in Uganda is interesting for three reasons. First, his call for recognizing that “gay rights are human rights” actually pre-dates an identical declaration from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by two full months. Secondly, the woman wearing lavender you see seating herself at the beginning of the video is Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, who played an important role in reviving the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in October. And finally, Uganda and Kenya close neighbors, sharing a common history as part of Britian’s East African colonies, and they maintain extensive political and economic ties. Much of Uganda’s imports and exports flow through the Kenyan port of Mombasa, and the two countries are part of a larger emerging common market, the East African Community. The situation for LGBT people in Kenya is generally much better than in Uganda, although there have been instances of mob violence against suspected gay people in recent years.
Mutunga has an interesting history. In the early 1980s as a student, he was politically active against Kenyan president/dictator Daniel Arap Moi, which led to his detention and exile to Canada. When Kenya turned to multi-party elections in 1991, he returned home and became part of Kenya’s “Young Turks, advocating for human rights in the country. He continued to work in human rights positions throughout most of the next two decades. After Kenya reorganized under a new constitution following the disputed 2007 which broke down into nationwide violence, Mutunga was named to the country’s new High Court in 2011.
Here is the video and transcript of a portion of Justice Mutunga’s remarks:
We have fought and succeeded in demanding our rights of movement and association although we can’t take them for granted. We should see less of the workshopping in hotels, less of the flipcharts and the [?], as we now move to the countrysides and make sure our people own and protect the human rights and social justice messages.
The other frontier of marginalization is the gay rights movement. Gay rights are human rights. Here I’m simply confining my statement to the context of human rights and social justice paradigm, and avoiding the controversy that exists in our constitutions and various legislation. As far as I know, human rights principles that we work on, do not allow us to implement human rights selectively. We need clarity on this issue within the human rights movement in East Africa, if we are to face the challenges that are spearheaded by powerful political and religious forces in our midst. I find the arguments made by some of our human rights activists, the so-called “moral arguments” simply rationalizations for using human rights principles opportunistically and selectively. We need to bring together the opposing viewpoints in the movement of this issue for final and conclusive debate.
I thank the FIDA movement, membership, leadership, and its national, regional and global network for the honor bestowed on me. I’m very proud of this honor and I will never take it for granted.
Path for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Remains Unclear
October 26th, 2011
This morning I spoke with Parliament Spokeswoman, Helen Kawesa, who told me that no date had been set for debate on the anti-gay measure. “The Business Committee will meet to decide what bills are considered. Then they will be listed on the daily Order Paper,” Kawesa explained. The Business Committee is chaired by Speaker of the House Rebecca Kadaga and made up of all other committee chairs. Currently, no date has been set for this committee to consider a schedule for the bills returned from the Eighth Parliament.
As we noted earlier, Speaker Kadaga was an early supporter for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and before that, for increased penalties for homosexuality. Kikonyogo Kivumbi, writing for the African blog Behind the Mask, has more details:
The passing of the motion (to revive several bills from the previous Parliament) means that David Bahati, the legislator who tabled the globally infamous “kill the gays” bill will not require Cabinet’s approval to table the anti-homosexual bill again.
The Ugandan Cabinet recently said that it had rejected the bill, tabled by as private member’s bill. But Bahati quickly reminded Cabinet that they had no powers over his bill, because it was a property of the Parliament of Uganda, and not the Executive.
Under normal rules of procedure, Bahati should have presented his bill to cabinet first, and also to the Ministry of Finance to obtain a certificate of financial implications of what it can cost government is the bill is passed into law, before a re-tabling.
Stephen Tashobya, Chairperson of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee which was given jurisdiction over the bill, said that Parliament will soon decide on a schedule for the bills:
He could not however say whether the Bahati bill is a priority for the executive. He said, “All bills from the previous parliament shall continue, without going back to the executive for re-introduction.”
Reports: Uganda Brings Back Anti-Homosexuality Bill
October 25th, 2011
The legislation will be sent to the relevant session committee for consideration, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told lawmakers today in a televised debate from the capital, Kampala.
Uganda’s parliament voted to reopen a debate on a bill that seeks to outlaw homosexuality that may be expanded to include the death penalty for gay people.
Giles Muhame, the former editor of the notorious Ugandan gay-baiting tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) has more about the Parliamentary maneuvers and debates which, he says, brought the bill back. According to Muhame, the motion to revive the bill was made by MP Lt. Col. Sara Mpabwa, and was seconded by MP Crispus Ayena. A host of other contentious bills which were left unfinished when the Eighth Parliament expired last May were also reportedly brought back, along with all committee reports attached to the bills. Speaker Kadaga cited parliamentary procedures in Canada and India to justify the procedure of bringing bills back into Parliament without repeating the initial readings required to introduce a bill and refer it to committee.
The Speaker was an early supporter for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and before that for increased penalties for homosexuality. She presided over Parliament in April 2009 in her role as Deputy Speaker when MP David Bahati sought approval to submit an Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a private member’s bill.
If these reports are correct, then the bill’s revival appears to be occurring despite assurances from representatives of President Yoweri Museveni’s cabinet that they have “thrown out” the bill. When that annnouncement was made last August, a Parliamentary spokesperson immediately shot back that the bill was “Parliament’s property.” Meanwhile, M.P. David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, was elevated to the vice-chairmanship of the ruling party’s caucus in Parliament. In October, the caucus chairman was forced to step aside due to a corruption probe, and Bahati has since been elevated to acting caucus chair.
Since the innauguration of the Nineth Parliament, there had been rumors that that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would be brought back sometime in the second half of August while others placed the timing in November. It was unclear what form the reintroduced bill would take. In early 2010, the Cabinet had recommended dismantling the bill and passing portions of it surreptitiously as amendments to other bills in the hopes of escaping worldwide attention. Many of those reported recommendations actaully made their way into a Parliamentary report last May, barely a week before the Eight Parliament was scheduled to end. Media at that time carried several false reports that the death penalty provisions had been dropped, but we now know that the death penalty, in fact, was still part of the bill. The Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended that in the Clause 3 defining “aggravated homosexuality” and which specifies that “A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death,” that the phrase “suffer death” should be replaced with “the penalty provided for aggravated defilement under Section 129 of the Penal Code Act.” Section 129 of the Penal Code Act mandates the death penalty for an unrelated offense of child molestation. Parliament ultimately failed to pass the bill due to a lack of a quorum because of controversy over another unrelated bill.
If, as reported, this latest maneuver actually does revive the bill with its Parliamentary Affairs Committee report, then the bill’s passage might be imminent since the last step for its final passage last May was a final vote in Parliament.
Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill Pushed Back Until November?
August 16th, 2011
However perhaps even matching its own record on the bizarre and grotesque was the so-called “Kill the Gays” Bill that was introduced by arguably one of the more capable Members of Parliament today, the Ndorwa West MP David Bahati. Last time I had a chat with the MP (who I had incidentally advised against the bill precisely because of the storm it may generate and because I considered it a waste of valuable time), he told me the bill would return to the house in November. “ I am winning,” he said.
These days I am sort of resigned to how disagreeable things can become what with an economic storm, a crisis of the Ugandan shilling and real hurt amongst Ugandan families that I consider this bill largely academic. But just like the bail law some people have suggested to me that the bill is intended for political purposes as well. My sources in parliament also add that because of the world wide storm it generated it will come to the House for debate in stealth not reflected in “ the order paper” of the day.
As I said, all such reports should be taken with skepticism, but there are several elements to this one which has important elements of credibility. The “stealth” plan, for example, builds on what appears to be a growing recognition among Ugandan lawmakers that if they want to pass this draconian bill, the best way to do it is on the down low. Such measures that we’ve already heard discussed include slipping various sections of the bill into other otherwise innocuous legislation, and concealing its the death penalty provision by quietly linking it to another law providing for capital punishment. And so why not extend the subterfuge to the methods for passing the bill and not just limit them to the contents of the bill? Throckmorton writes:
I have also heard today from sources I trust that ministers are quietly appealing to MPs to pass the bill via letters and emails. The relevance of this is that the movement to get the bill considered is not as public as during the previous parliament.
The current Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, was an early supporter for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and before that for increased penalties for homosexuality. She was Deputy Speaker in 2009, and presided over Parliament in April when MP David Bahati sought approval to submit an Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a private member’s bill. As Throckmorton notes, as speaker she has the authority to revive the bill from the prior Parliament, as was done with the controversial HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill just last month.
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO #2: Ugandan Minister Considers Forced Counseling to “Rehabilitate” Gays
December 23rd, 2009
Thanks to an anonymous reader in Uganda, BTB has been able to obtain cell-phone video of a Ugandan news broadcast showing Tuesday’s anti-gay demonstration in Kampala by pastors Martin Ssempa, Solomon Male and Michael Kyazza.
This clip of a NTV News broadcast by the independent NBS television on Dec 22 begins with a short description of “aggravated homosexuality,” as “when one subjects a minor to gay acts or deliberately infects them with HIV.” This repeats the persistent mischaracterization of the actual text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament. The bill would actually include anyone who is HIV-positive (whether they “deliberately infect” someone or not), and it also includes anyone who is a “serial offender,” which could conceivably ensnare anyone who has had more than one lover, or who had sex with the same lover more than once. In recent days, MP David Bahati, the prime sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, has mischaracterized the true of the bill numerous times, as has Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa. These lies are now being repeated in Uganda’s media.
The clip shows scenes of an anti-gay rally organized by Ssempa, Male and Kyazza. I don’t know if this is the same rally shown in the Platinum News clip uploaded earlier today. It then cuts to a video of Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo defending the bill, while raising the possibility of adding a forced conversion clause to the measure. This forced conversion idea was first brought up during an anti-gay conference put on last March by three American anti-gay activists.
From there, the report shows a “pressure group” (one of whom is Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa) meeting with the Deputy Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to urge swift passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The reporter observes that Kadaga “appears to back the bill,” but the Deputy Speaker then read a passage from the existing law against homosexuality which already provides for a life sentence.
Uganda Anti-Gay Activists March, “Storm Parliament”
April 24th, 2009
The Daily Monitor of Uganda has this report on a march by local anti-gay activists held on Tuesday:
Activists against homosexuality in Uganda stormed parliament on Tuesday protesting against the practice and demanded a probe into the practice in the country.
The activists who were holding banners denouncing the activity were led by the Family Life Network in conjunction with religious leaders.
The groups led by the Executive Director of Family Life Network, Mr Stephen Langa while handing over their petition to the Deputy Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga said the Parliamentary select committee should also assess the extent of the damage homosexuality has caused to children and Ugandans.
…Mr Langa said the homosexuals under the group Sexual Minorities Uganda spend huge sums of money to recruit University students and those in secondary schools into homosexuality. They did not give details.
Another Uganda news outlet, UGPulse, reported that Deputy Speaker Kadaga “promised to push for the amendment of Article 31 of the Constitution which prohibits homosexual marriages. Langa had earlier noted that the article prohibits gay marriages but not the actions.”The Daily Monitor’s article indicates that the group explained that they wanted the proposed amendment to be broadened to “openly prohibit homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality and other related practices.” According to some reports, there are moves afoot to make merely being gay a crime.
The anonymous blogger GayUganda reports that the demonstration began at Makerere University, the principle university in Kampala. Makerere University serves as host to pastor Martin Ssempa’s weekly anti-gay talks known as “Prime Time.” From Makerere University, the march worked its way through Kampala to the Parliament building. Portions of the march were carried on local Ugandan television.
This march follows Sunday’s full-page article in the gossip tabloid The Red Pepper, which provided first names and other identifying features of more than fifty gays and lesbians in Uganda. Identifying features included places of residences, employers, partners’ names, and types of cars driven. The article does not appear on The Red Pepper’s web site. The Red Pepper promises another round of public outings next Sunday.
The same tabloid gained notoriety for conducting a similar public outing campaign in 2007. That campaign led to mob assaults, arrests, extra-judicial punishment, and drove some LGBT Ugandans into hiding or exile.
This year’s anti-gay campaign traces its origins to a March 3-5 conference held in Kampala featuring three American anti-gay activists. Conference speakers included Exodus board president Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and purported raiser-of-the-dead and Richard Cohen protegé Caleb Lee Brundidge.