Uganda LGBT Advocate Arrested for “Recruiting Into Homosexuality”
January 1st, 2013
According to information provided in a couple of Facebook postings and confirmed by Ugandan LGBT advocates, Kaweesi Joseph, a founding member of the Ugandan LGBT advocacy and support group Youth on Rock Foundation was arrested on December 30 for what is described as “acts of homosexuality and recruiting juveniles.” The circumstances behind his arrest remain unclear. Kenyan activist Denis Nzioka has confirmed that Kaweesi has been arrested by police and is in custody at Kawempe police station in a suburb north of Kampala.
The charges against Kaweesi remain unclear. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, with punishment ranging from twenty years to life, depending on how prosecutors chose to apply the law. Because other reports appear to allude to “unnatural offences,” it appears that police are looking to charge Kaweesi under Section 145 of Uganda’s Penal Code, which reads:
Any person who— (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life.
But as legal observers point out, there is no law barring “recruiting,” although the term has two distinct but often conflated meanings in the Ugandan context. Anti-gay rhetoric in Uganda has it that the only way people become gay is that they are “recruited” into homosexuality, either through “defilement” or by otherwise providing support for LGBT youth and adults. “Defilement,” which refers to rape or sexual abuse, is obviously against the law. But the fact that the term “defilement” is not being used here seems to indicate that police are using the term “recruiting” to mean providing support or services for gay people. Aside from the sheer impossibility of “recruiting” anyone into being gay, Ugandan law currently does not prohibit advocacy or providing support services for LGBT people, although the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill would outlaw all such support.
According to Deniz Nzioka at Identity Kenya:
Local activists confirmed the incident and were looking into ways to secure the release of Kaweesi. Additionally, TRF updated on their Facebook page on the same and urged members to be exercise caution.
A lawyer was in touch with Kaweesi and it was expected that he would post bail to ensure he is released.
In a more recent Facebook posting, it is reported that Kaweesi is still in police custody and will be spending his third night in jail. Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Executive Director Frank Mugisha confirms via Facebook:
Today at Police they pulled up one of the ugandan gay facebook pages as evidence,against a ugandan gay guy who has been arrested,please be careful with what you post on fb esp people in the closet.
Last week, the offices of Sexual Minorities Uganda were broken into, and several computers with their hard drives were stolen. It is not known what information was contained in those hard drives or whether that theft has led to this arrest.
Uganda’s Parliament is currently on break for the Christmas holidays. It may take up debate on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it resumes in February. Several prominent pastors, including the new Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, have called for the bill’s passage in their New Year’s addresses earlier today “to avert the recruitment of youngsters to adopt the same-sex behaviour.”
Homosexuality Again A Topic As Uganda Gets New Anglican Archbishop
December 18th, 2012
Rt. Rev. Stanley Ntagali was installed as Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda this weekend, and the topic that seems to be on everybody’s mind there continues to be the debate over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In this clip from NTV, Uganda’s largest independent television network, we hear President Yoweri Museveni addressing the crowd at Namirembe Cathedral:
(@1:47) We’re not going to kill them. (unintelligible) because we didn’t kill them in the past. We are not going to persecute them. We are not going to marginalize them. But there should be no promotion, and sex here is confidential.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill which is currently before Parliament however would, in its current form, bring the death penalty or life imprisonment for gay people, and would endanger everyone else with lengthy prison terms for either knowing, providing services, or defending them.
The new Archbishop also addressed homosexuality and corruption as two areas that he would address as the Church’s new leader. And speaking of corruption, Ntagali accepted a brand new Toyota SUV from the President. Museveni routinely furnishes them to select religious leaders who he favors.
According to the anti-gay web site Anglican Mainstream, Rev. Robert W. Duncan, who heads an American breakaway Anglican movement which recognizes the Archbishop of Uganda as its spiritual leader (he is incorrectly identified as “Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America”), was in attendance and spoke at the ceremony. It is not clear however whether he addressed either directly or indirectly the controversy over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Ntagali succeeds retired Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, who as recently as last June called for the Parliament to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. When asked whether the Anglican Communion has reached a point of full schism during the 2010 All Africa Bishops Conference (which Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams attended as head of the worldwide Anglican Communion), Orombi announced that “there is already a break.” Orombi has published invitations to American parishes to break from their own bishops to seek “spiritual guidance” from Orombi instead of the established Episcopal Church.