Uganda MP’s Seek To Avoid Public Debate On Anti-Homosexuality Bill
April 2nd, 2013
Uganda’s Parliament returns today following an extended Easter break, when MP’s heard several earfuls from their constituents over the controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill. I’m not up on the bill’s provisions, but Ugandan media reports seem to indicate that the bill, part of a four-year effort to modernize Uganda’s marriage and divorce laws, has run into a buzz saw of controversy from several quarters. Religious leaders have come out against it, as have traditional community leaders. In Karamoja, a subregion in northeast Uganda along the border with Kenya and South Sudan, local elders have threatened to visit their traditional spiritual sites to place a curse on politicians supporting the bill. “We are going to slaughter several bulls and eat blood for seven days in the Atekerin Mountain to fail that Bill and curse those MPs pushing for it,” said one resident. President Yoweri Museveni is now backtracking from the bill, and Daily Monitor reports that other MP’ have “asked Parliament to abandon the Bill and address other issues crucial to the population.”
What does this have to do with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill? Well, according to the most recent Orders Paper (Word: 41KB/2 pages) posted by Parliament from last month, one of those “other issues crucial to the population” is the kill-the-gays bill, which was number 3 under “Notice of Business to Follow.” It has been hovering in the top half of that on-deck list since last November, waiting in the wings as Parliament tears itself apart over other divisive and contentious issues. The thing about the AHB to remember is that it is in no way contentious or controversial, at least not inside Uganda where it enjoys overwhelming support, death penalty and all. But controversy outside of Uganda has made the bill an enormous headache for the country’s political leaders. Already, several European countries made good on their threats to cut direct aid over rampant corruption. When Germany joined five other nations in cutting aid, it added the pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill to its list of concerns.
This places Ugandan politicians in a bind. On the one hand, the AHB is hugely popular with their constituents, and there is no political advantage whatsoever in opposing the bill. On the other hand, being linked to the bill threatens to make those same politicians pariahs outside of Uganda. As the opposition Observer reports, this has led many politicians to call for debating the bill in private:
However, The Observer understands that some lawmakers have toyed with the idea of lobbying Speaker Rebecca Kadaga for a closed-door session when debate on the bill starts. National Youth MP, Monica Amoding, told The Observer that some MPs on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee proposed the move because of the sensitive nature of the bill.
“This subject is very sensitive and some of us fear that if it is discussed in public view, we will be persecuted for holding particular views,” Amoding said. Not surprisingly, she refused to state whether she supports the bill.
Another MP, who requested anonymity, explained that supporting the bill publically could lead to being blacklisted. He cited David Bahati, the main promoter of the bill, saying the MP has been ostracised by some elements in the West because of his views.
“We have some projects that are funded by donors and at the same time we don’t want to be misunderstood by voters. So, it is better to remain silent to avoid being blacklisted,” he said.
The Observer goes on to list the names of 34 MP’s who publicly support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. It might be prudent to retain this list for future reference.
Yahaya Gudoi (Bungokho North,NRM)
Isabirye Idi (Bunya South,NRM)
Lyndah Timbigamba (Kyenjojo Woman, NRM)
Jovah Kamateka (Mitooma Woman,NRM)
Cyrus Amodoi (Toroma, Indep)
Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West, NRM)
Chris Baryomusi (Kinkizi East, NRM),
Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers, NRM)
Hellen Asamo (PWD Eastern, NRM)
Martin Drito (Madi Okollo, NRM)
Amos Mandera ( Kooki, NRM)
George Ekuma (Bukedea, NRM)
Rose Akol (Bukedea Woman, NRM),
Michael Ayepa (Labwor, NRM),
Remigio Achia (Pian, NRM)
Elizabeth Karungi (Kalungu, NRM),
Hatwib Katoto (Katerera, NRM)
Hanifah Kawooya (Sembabule Woman, NRM)
Twa Twa Mutwalante (Iki Iki,NRM)
Geofrey Ekanya (Tororo,FDC)
Olivia Kabala Kwagala (Iganga, NRM)
Benard Atiku (Ayivu,FDC)
Bakaluba Mukasa (Mukono North, NRM)
Stephen Birahwa (Buliisa, NRM)
James Kakooza (Kabula, NRM)
Kaps Fungaroo (Ubongi, FDC)
Tophace Kaahwa (Hoima Woman, NRM)
Mary Turyahikayo (Rubabo, NRM)
Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri, FDC)
Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality, Indep)
Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West, DP)
Vincent Ssempija (Kalungu East, Indep)
Mariam Nalubega (Butambala Woman, Indep)
Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala, DP)
Jesca Ababiku (Adjumani Woman, Indep).
Uganda’s President Denies Anti-LGBT Persecution
March 20th, 2013
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni reportedly told a visiting delegation from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights that there was no marginalization or killing of LGBT people in Uganda. Both the government-owned New Vision and the independent Daily Monitor reported on Museveni’s remarks yesterday According to New Vision:
President Yoweri Museveni has said the issue of homosexuality and lesbianism has been totally distorted leading to wrong public debate.
“In our society, there were a few homosexuals. There was no persecution, no killings and no marginalization of these people but they were regarded as deviants. Sex among Africans including heterosexuals is confidential,” Museveni said.
“If am to kiss my wife in public, I would lose an election in Uganda. Western people exhibit sexual acts in public which we don’t do here,” he said, adding that, Africans do even punish heterosexuals who publically expose their sexual acts.
The president said what is new is the way Europeans and other Western people handle the issue of sexuality in general, including public flaunting which is a problem and luring young people into acts of homosexuality for money.
He said attempts to promote homosexuality as an alternative way of life has led to engagements in running battles with the church.
“You have a lot of room in your house, why don’t you go there. Sex is a bilateral issue, not a multilateral one,” he said.
Among the delegation was Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy. In 2011, the Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights honored Sexual Minorities Uganda executive director Frank Mugisha with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. According to Daily Monitor:
Ms Kennedy, who was accompanied by several lawyers, actors and religious leaders, expressed concern over the pending Anti-Homosexuality bill, reports of harassment of the Gay and Lesbian Community in Uganda and over the exposure of the identities of sexual minority groups. She also said the pending bill on homosexuality works against the international law treaties that Uganda has signed. Ms Kennedy cautioned against the misconceptions that equate paedophiles with homosexuals.
New Vision reported that Kennedy also told Museveni that ”it is a violation of people’s rights to put pictures of sexual minority groups in the [news] papers.” Museveni reportedly promised to investigate:
Reacting to various issues raised by the team, Museveni said he would investigate claims of violence against homosexuals, adding that for a viable solution, activists must respect the confidentiality of sex in our traditions and culture. He reiterated that in Uganda, “there is no discrimination, no killings, no marginalization, no luring of young people using money into homosexual acts”.
Museveni did not directly address the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which still incudes the death penalty for what it defines as “aggravated homosexuality.” Some observers believe that in these statements he was distancing himself from the proposed legislation. I don’t see it that way at all. Besides, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been an exceptionally useful tool for Museveni’s government as it pursues other political agendas.
The bill still remains on Parliament’s agenda, under the heading of “Business to follow,” where it has occupied various spots since November. Parliament is currently on break until April as it wrangles over the highly controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill, which is wrapped up in highly emotional arguments over women in society and, in addition, pits government policy against entrenched and longstanding tribal practices. In fact, it was a walk out by women MP’s in a dispute over the Marriage and Divorce Bill in the closing days of the Eighth Parliament in 2011 which prevented the Anti-Homosexuality Bill from coming to a vote. With the Marriage and Divorce Bill back on the agenda, it appears that the AHB is again playing its normal role, having been placed on stand-by in case a unifying vote is needed to heal fractures in Parliament, or if a popular vote is needed to salve outraged sectors of the general public.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Rises To Top of Parliament’s “Business to Follow”
February 19th, 2013
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the draconian legislation that would seek to wipe LGBT people out of existence, has risen to the top of the Uganda Parliament’s “Business to Follow” list on today’s Order Paper (Word: 43KB/2 pages). The bill’s rising profile occurs as Parliament is set to consider two other contentious bills: a second Petroleum Bill to regulate gas processing and conversion, transportation, and storage; and a Public Order and Management Bill, which comes in the wake of widespread protests by opposition leaders and ongoing police crackdowns on freedom of assembly on behalf of the government. It also follows a highly controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill, which, like the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, has been in the works since 2009. In fact, it was a walkout over the Marriage and Divorce Bill which denied the previous Parliament its working quorum and led to that Parliament’s expiration before it was able to vote on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
All three bills ahead of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill are allocated sixty minutes on the agenda, but it may, in fact, take weeks for Parliament to make their way through these bills. The Petroleum Bill first appeared on Parliament’s Order Paper last Wednesday (Word: 36/2 pages) with its allocated sixty minutes of fame. Nearly a week later, and it’s still there awaiting action. That same day, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was at number four under “Business to Follow”, and the Marriage and Divorce Bill was placed at number five. The next day (Word: 41KB/2 pages), the Anti-Homosexuality Bill rose to the number three spot under “Business to Follow,” but the Marriage and Divorce Bill leapfrogged to number two, just behind the Public Order and Management Bill.
The last time the Anti-Homosexuality Bill made it to the top of Parliament’s “Business to Follow,” the house was wrangling over a highly controversial Petroleum Bill which would grant vast powers to the Energy Minister, a presidential appointee, giving the minister sole discretion in negotiating, signing and revoking lucrative oil exploration and drilling contracts. Uganda is already rated as one of the more corrupt nations of East Africa, and critics charged that the first Petroleum Bill would amount to legalizing the theft of the country’s newly-discovered oil wealth. That bill was finally passed in a deft, last-minute move when there just happened to be the precise number of people on hand in Parliament to form a bare quorum. Soon after, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill quickly fell to number seven in Parliament’s “Business to Follow.” The bill’s recent rise on the on-deck list follows a familiar pattern of being retained close at hand in case it is needed as either a carrot, a unifying reward or a distraction if one of the other more contentious bills results in turmoil in the House.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 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. A complete clause-by-clause examination f of the bill’s nineteen clauses begins here, and our examination of the numerous false reports that the death penalty has been removed is here. A description of the Parliamentary process is here; with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill now at step “C.” If the bill is passed by Parliament, the Uganda Constitution spells out these options before the bill becomes law.
Uganda Considers Deporting British Pro-Gay Play Producer
February 8th, 2013
The Guardian has confirmed that David Cecil, the British National who had been arrested for staging a pro-gay play in the Kampala, Uganda, suburbs, is back in police detention and facing possible deportation.
Cecil was arrested last September after successfully staging the play, “The River and the Mountain” in a couple of small Kampala-area theaters. The play, about a gay businessman and his mother who tries various schemes to make him straight, was staged after the Uganda Media Council banned the play’s performance at the National Theatre. Cecil was subsequently arrested for staging the play “against lawful orders,” but Ugandan court dismissed those charges in January.
In the latest developments, The Guardian reports:
Immigration officers took Cecil from his home in the outskirts of the capital, Kampala, on Thursday to Jinja Road police station, where he is being held. Fridah Mutesi, a human rights lawyer in Uganda, said the government did not disclose the grounds on which Cecil was being deported, but that it had the power to deport individuals deemed “undesirable”.
…Cecil, who has a partner and young family in Kampala, said he would appeal against the deportation order, either from Uganda or from the UK. He said the arrest was “political, not legal”.
Uganda’s Parliament Resumes With Anti-Homosexuality Bill Waiting In the Wings
February 6th, 2013
Uganda’s Parliament has returned after a nearly two month break, with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill listed as number eight under “Business to Follow” in yesterday’s order paper (Word: 37KB/2 pages), as well as today’s ( Word: 42KB/2 pages). There are at least a couple of ways to read this. First, this is the lowest position the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has occupied on the Parliament’s agenda since the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee announced that it had completed its report on the bill. That announcement included unverified claims that the death penalty would be removed from the bill, claims that we had seen before and were proven to have been falsely made. So for those looking for signs of encouragement, the bill’s low placement on the agenda — after a report on the African Space Research Program – may be taken as something of a positive sign.
But there is also another way to look at it, and it is consistent with what I’ve observed before: the Anti-Homosexuality Bill always seems to be hanging around whenever any other divisive issue is consuming the public’s or politicians’ attention. You may recall that when Parliament was fighting over the highly controversial Petroleum Bill last December, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was waiting in the wings at number one under “Business to Follow,” and there it remained until after the Petroleum Bill passed in a hurriedly-called session. That Petroleum Bill was extremely controversial because it gave sweeping powers to a presidential appointee to sign and cancel oil drilling licenses, opening the way to massive corruption in the oil sector. Within a week of that bill’s passage — in a very hurriedly-called session when, coincidentally, there just happened to be a bare minimum of MP’s on hand to form quorum — the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was shoved down to number six, then to number seven, under “Business to Follow,” where it more or less remains today.
So look at where the bill is today. Placed above the Anti-Homosexuality Bill under “Business to Follow” are various reports investigating payouts for road construction and a cement company (both of which are mired in allegations of financial irregularities), a report on an investigation on irregularitites in the Electrical Subsector of a Petroleum Bill (a different Petroleum Bill from last December’s), and the Public order and Management Bill. That last one is likely to be particularly contentious, as it would grant the President and his cabinet unilateral powers to quash the freedom of peaceful assembly and dissent. And none of those issues even hint at a massive controversy taking place outside Parliament over the sudden death of a popular young Member of Parliament and the government’s ham-handed attempts to repress an independent investigation of the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death.
And so once again, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill placement on the agenda follows a fairly well-established pattern, and is consistent with my earlier speculation that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s true role in Parliament is to remain close at hand as a potent distraction (if needed) or as a unifying rallying point after a controversial vote (again, if needed).
For our clause-by-clause of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s provisions, start here. For a quick view of how a bill becomes law in Uganda, click here. The bill’s place in that process is little changed since that post was written, as it has not yet gone to the plenary stage. For a review of what happens if Parliament does pass the bill, click here. And if someone tries to tell you that the death penalty has already been removed from the bill, refer them here.
Ugandan Official Says Anti-Homosexuality Bill Already Hurting Economy
January 10th, 2013
I should note first that The Observer is an opposition publication in Uganda, so it’s hard to know how influential this debate might be, which David Tash Lumu describes as taking place “on the steps of Parliament” between several members of Parliament and a Deputy Secretary to the Treasury:
So at a time when the University of Buckingham in the UK has reportedly severed ties with Victoria University over the bill, which the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, promised to pass last year as a “Christmas gift”, a rare debate happened at the steps of the august House. The MPs who were part of this debate included James Kakooza (Kabula), Fox Odoi (West Budama North) and Geoffrey Ekanya (Tororo).
This reporter was also part of the debate that sucked in (Deputy Secretary to the Treasury) Keith Muhakanizi. While Kakooza suggested the bill would protect the morals of the country, Fox Odoi, a member of Parliament’s committee on Legal Affairs that scrutinised it, argued that it is illogical to legislate on morality. Odoi, who has written a minority report bashing the bill, added that if lawmakers ignore his report and pass the bill, they will have set a wrong precedent—that government can enter or legislate what happens in your bedroom.
Ekanya, the shadow Finance minister, however expressed worry about the economy, arguing that the aid cuts have happened not because of corruption but largely because of this bill. Ekanya added that the bill is the best ammunition President Museveni has right now—because he uses it to scare donors.
“He must be saying that if you don’t give us the money, I am going to tell MPs to pass this bill,” Ekanya said.
But Muhakanizi dismissed this and accused MPs of not being sensitive about the economy. He said by bringing up such a bill, the MPs are hurting the economy because they have failed to look at the far-reaching financial consequences of passing it.
“I have never seen a country like this where politicians hurt the economy instead of building it,” he said.
Again, it’s hard to understand what level of importance to place in this. Kakooza is a member of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), which holds a dominating super-majority of seats in Parliament. Odio is Independent member, and Ekanya is a member of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the main opposition party in Uganda.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was reintroduced into Parliament in February, 2012, and spent the next several months languishing quietly in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. Later last summer, Parliament leaders began hinting that the bill would be voted on by the end of the year. In November, Speaker Kadaga promised to pass the Anti-Homosexuality bill as a “Christmas gift to Ugandans.” The bill looked as though it would re-emerge on the House floor as Parlaiment began debating a highly controversial Petrolium Bill, which granted the presidentially-appointed Energy Minister with sweeping power to sign and cancel lucrative oil contracts with no oversight from Parliament.
As tensions mounted over the Petroleum Bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill rose to the top of Parliament’s list of “Business to follow,” potentially as a unifying incentive to ease the passage of the Petroleum Bill. Parliament nevertheless broke down in chaos over the Petroleum bill, only to regroup and pass it. It was thought that by getting the Petroleum Bill out of the way, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would be the next item for discussion, but instead it was immediately lowered in priority on the Parliament’s list of business to follow. Parliament went on Christmas break on December 14, and will resume on February 4.
Meanwhile, a massive corruption scandal exploded in the Prime Minister’s office when it was discovered that foreign aid funds from several European countries were diverted to private bank accounts of more than a dozen Ugandan officials. Britain, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden announced aid cuts due to the scandal. Germany’s announcement also cited the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a reason. Earlier this week, Britain’s University of Buckingham announced that it was ending its relationship with Victoria University in Kampala over the pending legislation.
British University Cuts Ties With Uganda Affiliate Over Anti-Gay Bill (UPDATED)
January 8th, 2013
According to a statement posted on the University of Buckingham web site, the university has suspended the validation of some of the courses offered at Victoria University in Kampala:
Over the last few months, the University of Buckingham has been in discussions with our partners, Edulink, who own Victoria University in Kampala, Uganda, about our continued validation of some of Victoria University’s courses. We have both become increasingly concerned about the proposed legislation in Uganda on homosexuality and in particular the constraints on freedom of speech in this area. In the light of this we have agreed to suspend our validation on the assurance that Edulink would produce viable arrangements for existing students on our validated courses to complete their studies. We will of course assist Edulink with any validation support needed to achieve this.
In February 2011, University of Buckingham announced that they were entering an agreement with Victoria University to provide courses produced by Buckingham, with the goal over time of embarking on joint research and providing educational programs which would meed the British standards for East African students.
Update: BTB commenter Bose in St. Peter MN found this statement from Victoria University which provides further context (PDF: 1 page/283KB):
Under both UK and Ugandan law discrimination on a variety of grounds is prohibited; however there are fundamental differences between the two nations’ respective laws regarding equality and diversity, which cannot be reconciled. After seeking legal guidance from both UK and Ugandan lawyers, Victoria University and University of Buckingham have concluded that as the laws of Uganda and UK presently stand, Victoria University cannot comply with both sets of laws.
Therefore, the collaboration between Victoria University and the University of Buckingham has been suspended because it cannot operate in a status of legal uncertainty and/or non-compliance.
Federal Judge Expresses Doubt About Lawsuit Against Scott Lively
January 7th, 2013
A hearing was held today at a Federal Court in Springfield, Massachusetts on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against American anti-gay extremist Scott Lively. The Center for Constitutional Rights is suing Lively on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda, alleging that Lively engaged in a conspiracy to deny the LGBT community of their rights under International Law and which resulted in harm to the LGBT community. Lively is being sued under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides federal jurisdiction for “any civil action by an alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” In today’s hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Ponsor expressed doubts about the case:
During a 90-minute hearing in U.S. District Court, Ponsor said the lawsuit filed by Sexual Minorities Uganda against the Springfield minister poses a test of Lively’s free-speech protection and the rights of sexual minorities to equal protection under the law.
But the judge said the plaintiffs needed to show a connection between Lively’s anti-gay advocacy in Uganda and illegal acts committed against gays in the country.
“I’m frankly struggling to see what behavior beyond expressive behavior” of Lively violated federal law, the judge said during the hearing attended by about 150 people, including a prominent Ugandan activist.
The plaintiffs, the judge added, “needed to show a more concrete example of misbehavior to justify continuation of the lawsuit.”
As I wrote last March soon after the case was filed, this is the very challenge CCR faces in this case. CCR’s case cannot simply be a recitation of what Lively said. If it is, then the case becomes solely about Lively’s speech and beliefs which, as odious as they are, are nevertheless protected under the First Amendment. What CCR would need to do is provide proof that Lively actually engaged in actions which constitute a plan or conspiracy with the desired outcome being the infringement of the rights of LGBT people under International Law, and that LGBT people in Uganda, as a result of that conspiracy or action, suffered as a result. Hence the judge’s emphasis on “misbehavior.”
While Judge Ponsor expressed his skepticism about the case, he also cast doubt on Lively’s motion to dismiss. According to the Springfield Republican, the judge didn’t indicate when he would rule on the motion to dismiss.
Lively is being defended in the lawsuit by Liberty Counsel.
British Pro-Gay Gay Producer’s Charges Dismissed By Uganda Court
January 2nd, 2013
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Executive Director Frank Mugisha tweets the happy news. David Cecil was arrested in September after successfully staging the play, “The River and the Mountain” in a couple of small Kampala-area theaters. He staged the play, about a gay businessman and his mother who tries various schemes to make him straight, after the Uganda Media Council banned the play’s performance at the National Theatre. He was subsequently arrested for staging the play “against lawful orders,” but Ugandan court today has dismissed those charges.
David Cecil shared the following statement on his Facebook page from his lawyer:
A win for freedom in Uganda! A case against a British script producer, David Cecil (accused of staging a “homosexual play”-The Mountain and the River and disobeying “lawful” orders) has been dismissed for lack of evidence by the Magistrates Court at Makindye. We can now sue the State for the malicious prosecution. This is the type of work I’m willing to do for the rest of my life. No man should be arrested, detained, charged and imprisoned arbitrarily for expressing himself. Rights and Freedoms are inherent and not granted by cultural and religious beliefs/institutions, families, parents, the Government or the State.
This win is only the latest court victory for LGBT people and their allies in Uganda. In 2011, the High Court ruled in favor of LGBT advocate David Kato and two other LGBT advocates who had sued the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) after its notorious outing campaigns. (Three weeks later, Kato was found murdered in his home.) Ugandan LGBT advocates are currently suing Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo, a defrocked former Catholic priest, who led raids against two conferences on human rights for LGBT people.
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.”
Ugandan Seventh-Day Adventist leader disputes support for Anti-Homosexuality Bill
December 23rd, 2012
Earlier this week the Ugandan government owned newspaper, New Vision, reported that Pastor Blasious Ruguri, the Seventh-day Adventist church president in East and Central Africa, said the church supports the Anti-Homosexuality “Kill the Gays” Bill. Ruguri is now disputing that report. (Adventist News)
The newspaper article suggests that Pastor Blasius Ruguri fully supports proposed legislation before the Ugandan Parliament that may include incarcerating and even executing people for same sex intimate contact.
In response to those reports, pastor Ruguri today said, “It is unfortunate that the media took the liberty to extend my statements to suggest what I did not say or imply. I have never seen that bill. Mine was a general statement to disapprove of homosexual practice and behavior. Our church is a ministry of mercy, and as a minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church I cannot condemn homosexuals to death or to hell.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Church subscribes to the biblical teaching that the practice of homosexuality is condemned by God and is forbidden, church officials said. At the same time, the church is strongly opposed to acts of violence, hatred or discrimination against a person because of his or her sexual orientation.
Trangender Activist and Pentecostal Pastor Spar On Ugandan TV
December 20th, 2012
Pepe Julian Onziema, a transgender advocate with Sexual Minorities Uganda, appeared on a talk show on Uganda’s NBS television with anti-gay pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa, who has been one of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s most outspoken supporters. I thought it was encouraging to see the host, reacting to Ssempa’s referring to Pepe using a female pronoun, interject strongly, “Mister Onziema!” But as you can see, that hardly deterred Ssempa from producing a banana to “explain” homosexuality.
The language is mostly in English, although they switch to Luganda from time to time. But you can certainly get more than the drift. At one point, Ssempa has gotten himself so riled up that it looks like he was about to leap out of his chair. The host was able to impose a momentary semblance of order so that this exchange could take place.
Host: Pepe, how do you want society to perceive you?
Pepe: “As a human being. As a person who is part of society…
Host: But society has rejected you.
Pepe: It has not rejected me. It is the propaganda of the likes of Ssempa. My family loves me as I am.
Ssempa quickly resumed interrupting and shouting over Onziema every time he tried to speak. But Onziema got a very good dig in at the host: “I cannot believe you put me on the show with a hooligan.”
As you can see, Ssempa remains bizarrely obsessed with gay sex. In January, 2010, he displayed gay S&M porn at a press conference while calling for the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He did the same thing again the following month at a news conference in his church. His antics when viral later that summer with re-mixes of Ssempa’s “Eat Da Poo-Poo” talks.
Ssempa is believed to be linked to the now-defunct Rolling Stone tabloid (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name), which launched an infamous 2010 “Hang Them!” vigilante campaign featuring LGBT advocate David Kato on the front cover. Kato, Onziema, and Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera sued Rolling Stone, and in a landmark ruling won an injunction barring the tabloid from any further outing campaigns. But Kato was brutally murdered just a few weeks later. Last month, was convicted by a Kampala court as part of the conspiracy to accuse a rival pastor of homosexuality.
Uganda President’s Remarks “Split” Anti-Gay Activists
December 18th, 2012
According to this NTV report, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni’s remarks last weekend has stirred some controversy, pitting die-hard anti-gay activists against fanatic anti-gay activists. (Yeah, I can’t tell the two camps apart either.) As you watch this report, it may help to have this dance card handy so you can keep the characters straight:
Pastor Solomon Male: He is against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, not because he thinks gay people shouldn’t be jailed, but because he thinks that the law would actually end up protecting powerful gay people in government and business. In October, Male was convicted by a Uganda court of conspiring to tarnish a rival pastor’s reputation by accusing him of homosexuality.
James Nsaba Buturo: He is the former Ethics and Integrity Minister who was among the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s strongest supporters. One U.S. State Department cable posted to Wikileaks described Buturo as “obsessed” with the bill. In this report, Buturo again claims that the death penalty provision as “a falsehood which has been spread around the world,” despite the bill’s exceptionally plain language spelling out the death penalty specifically. Buturo was among the Ugandan officials who met with American anti-gay extremist Scott Lively in 2009 just as the idea of drafting a new Anti-Homosexuality Bill was taking shape.
Pastor Martin Ssempa: The famous “Eat-Da-Poo-Poo” pastor, believed to be linked to the now-defunct Rolling Stone tabloid (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name), which launched an infamous 2010 “Hang Them!” vigilante campaign which featured LGBT advocate David Kato on the front cover. Kato was brutally murdered just a few months later in January 2011. Ssempa was convicted in October with Male as part of the conspiracy to accuse a rival pastor of homosexuality.
Texas Pastor Addresses Controversy Over Uganda Remarks
December 18th, 2012
Southern Baptist pastor David Dykes, who spoke on Uganda’s largest independent television station and denounced the U.S. State Department’s attempts to persuade Uganda from passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is now telling a local television station in Texas that he he doesn’t support the bill, but is angry the U.S. is getting involved. He told Tyler, Texas’s KYTX television:
“I’ve never read the bill. I don’t know what the bill says. My whole point was that I think it’s not right for our government to put pressure on any government about their moral decisions,” Dykes said.
This is about as disingenuous as it gets. I feel pretty confident that if Uganda was making a moral decision about rounding up Christians to throw them in jail for the rest of their lives, Dykes would be singing a very different tune.
Dykes claims not to know anything about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is pretty incredible to say the least. We’ve been following the situation in Uganda now for almost four years, three of them since the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first introduced into Parliament. (Our coverage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill begins here.) In order to follow events there, I have automated Google alerts set up which sends me virtually every news story there is about Uganda and Homosexuality. I can assure you that for news items originating both outside and inside of Uganda, there is virtually never a mention of homosexuality without also a description of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill for foreign readers or a mention of it in domestic reports (Ugandans know very well the bill’s major provisions). Consequently it has become impossible to talk about homosexuality inside of Uganda without reference to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. It has been the singular point of reference with which all discussion about homosexuality takes place in Uganda for the past three years.
This is important, and I can’t emphasise it enough: Every statement, every discussion, every op-ed and news item about homosexuailty in Uganda is written with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill both as a point of reference and as a backdrop to whatever else may be happening with regard to homosexuality.
For Dykes to now say that he knew nothing about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is simply beyond belief. This isn’t just some aw-shucks preacher from Texas. He has made missionary work one of the pillars of his church. He was recongized by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2008 for raising nearly $13 million for foreign missions, and his church sponsors at least one missionary group which has its particular focus on Uganda. For him to say, after all of the debate about the so-called “kill the gays” bill, that he never heard of it and knows nothing about it, is simply staggering.
But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Dykes has never read a newspaper article about Uganda, has never seen a television report about Uganda, and has never heard anyone else mention the debate that has taken place in Uganda for the past three years. And let’s say, for the sake of argument, that he has recently awoken from a three year slumber to discover that he is now at a major pastor’s conference in Uganda and the number one subject touching on homosexuality somehow never came up — despite the incredible coverage the Anti-Homosexuality Bil had had there for three years running. And let’s say for the sake of argument that when he woke up, he just happened to be standing in front of a television crew from Uganda’s largest independent network and he said, apropos of nothing…
I’m extremely upset that our state department is putting pressure on Uganda to recognize homosexual behavior. And I’m praying that Uganda will say, “We don’t want your money, America. It is blood money. It is sin money.” I hope that you will continue to stand strong on what the Bible defines as the definition of a real marriage.
…which just happens to be several of many standard lines given by Ugandan pastors who want the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed. (By the way, Clause 12 doesn’t just outlaw same-sex marriage, it throws everyone in jail for being in one or witnessing one or conducting one.)
Let’s just put aside all disbelief for the sake of argument and pretend that all of that is true.
Well, if Dykes doesn’t believe that gay people should be hanged, if he doesn’t believe that gay people should be thrown in jail for the rest of their lives, if he doesn’t believe that their families should be jailed because they didn’t report their loved ones to police, then he has a responsibility to say so.
And not to a TV station in Tyler, Texas. To Ugandans. Over there.
Because I bet not many Ugandans get CBS19 on basic cable. And right now, they think he supports killing gay people. Not only that, but they heard him say that American Christians will ride to their rescue if they pass the bill and lose their aid. And I will believe that too until I see him taking serious steps to tell them otherwise. Because we’ve seen this kind of double-talking behavior before. The only way for this to not be another example of double-speak is for Dykes to speak clearly and loudly with just one voice.
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.
Uganda’s Seventh Day Adventist President Wants To Kill Gay People
December 17th, 2012
From the Ugandan government-owned New Vision:
The Seventh -day Adventist (S.D.A) church has commended President Yoweri Museveni and Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of parliament for their strong stand against homosexuality and corruption in the country.
Pastor Blasious Ruguri, the Seventh-day Adventist church president in East and Central Africa, said the church supports the government in the fight against homosexuality and corruption.
“Our stand is “zero tolerance” to this vice and to western influence on this crucial issue because God says no to it. We are together with the President and the Speaker and we fully support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I call upon all religious ministers, all Ugandans, and all Africans to say no to Homosexuality. Let us stand for our sovereignty as Ugandans and as God fearing people even the heavens fall.”
Ruguri made the statements at a Mbarara SDA church at the inauguration of the Southwestern Uganda Field, which New Vision describes as similar to a doicese. The article also states that the church also installed a field president, identified as Bishop Bernard Kakuru Bampata, at the ceremony. President Yoweri Museveni sent Rose Namayanja, the State Minister for Luwero Triangle, to represent him as the guest of honor. Namayanja read a statement from Museveni which reportedly reassured the gathering “that the government will not tolerate homosexuality and corruption vices.”
In 2010, the church’s Uganda president John Kakembo gave his support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The Church responded with a tepid statement, saying simply, “These views do not reflect the values of the Church as expressed in published statements on same sex conduct.” It did not however call for a retraction of Kakembo’s support for the bill.
American Pastor David Dykes Wants To Kill Gay Ugandans (UPDATED)
December 17th, 2012
American pastor David Dykes has traveled from Tyler Texas, where he pastors Green Acres Baptist Church, to Uganda to offer his apparently unqualified support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Here, he appears on NTV, Uganda’s largest independent television station to denounce the State Department’s efforts to avert a human rights catastrophe and says that American churches will come together to fully back Uganda if the U.S. withdraws aid:
Dykes: I’m extremely upset that our state department is putting pressure on Uganda to recognize homosexual behavior. And I’m praying that Uganda will say, “We don’t want your money, America. It is blood money. It is sin money.” I hope that you will continue to stand strong on what the Bible defines as the definition of a real marriage.
…Already in Canada, there’ve been pastors who have been arrested for simply saying from their pulpit that a union between two men or two women is an abomination in the sight of God. A Canadian pastor was arrested for that. … But there’s also maybe a law soon that says we could be arrested if we say anything bad about gay marriage or about homosexual behavior. It would fall under the category in America of “Hate Crimes.”
… In America, Christians are going to put as much pressure as we can on our government not to cut the aid to Uganda over this issue. But if they do decide to do that, we’ll let our displeasure be known, but we’ll try to step in as the Church in America to try to make up sending resources over here, especially to the churches. We hope to stand alongside the believers of Uganda during this time of crisis.
Dykes’s Green Acres Baptist Church (Facebook page here), which is a member of the Southern Baptist conference, is one of the sponsors of Pastoral Care Ministries (Facebook page here). It appears that Dykes was in Uganda as part of a Pastoral Care Ministries effort. The PCM web site describes their work in Uganda (Emphasis in the original):
The work has just begun with Parental Care Ministries USA, yet the Lord has accomplished much in a short time. The effort in Parental Care School Mbarara Uganda, our first area of focus, has brought many improvements to the quality of life for this group of orphans and their staff of employees. Our accomplishments in 2008 included a new 16 passenger van for the ministry, dormitories for the orphans, new classrooms for the school, a uniform for every orphan, school desks, and teaching bibles for the teachers and pastors. …
Our other focus arm of the ministry is working with Pastor Emmy’s 50+ rural Ugandan pastors. We try to gather them from all over Uganda at least twice a year for conferences. We are assisting them with resources to help equip their churches to minister to local people. We have started a program called Cows for the Kingdom where pastors are given a cow to milk to provide for their family and sell the excess milk for a daily profit of a few dollars a day. Nearly 2/3 of all our pastors have a cow now. Pastors are also provided a bicycle which they use effectively sharing God’s Word wherever they go.
The other focus of work regarding the pastors is the School of Ezra that Pastor Emmy and Reuben direct. Here they teach these young pastors many Biblical truths and motivate them to share God’s Word with the reached and unreached in their particular areas. The school of Ezra currently meets at Mbarara Parental Care School when the children are on holiday.
It is worth remembering exactly what it is that David Dykes is so eager to support. The full text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is available online here (PDF: 847KB/16 pages). Our examination of the bill’s nineteen clauses are available below:
Clauses 1 and 2: Anybody Can Be Gay Under the Law. The definition of what constitutes “homosexual act” is so broad that just about anyone can be convicted.
Clause 3: Anyone Can Be “Liable To Suffer Death”. And you don’t even have to be gay to be sent to the gallows. There has been talk of removing the death penalty — which has not happened yet; it’s just talk — and replacing it with a life sentence. But can anyone seriously imaging that spending a lifetime in Uganda’s notorious Luzira prison is any better? Especially once your fellow prisoners learn that you were sent there for “aggravated homosexuality”?
Clause 4: Anyone Can “Attempt to Commit Homosexuality”. All you have to do is “attempt” to “touch” “any part of of the body” “with anything else” “through anything” in an act that does “not necessarily culminate in intercourse.”
Clauses 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10: How To Get Out Of Jail Free. The bill is written to openly encourage — and even pay — one partner to turn state’s evidence against another.
Clauses 7, 11, and 14: Straight People In The Crosshairs. Did you think they only wanted to jail gay people? They’re also targeting family members, doctors, lawyers, and even landlords.
Clause 12: Till Life Imprisonment Do You Part. And if you officiate a same-sex wedding, you’ll be imprisoned for up to three years. So much for religious freedom.
Clause 13: The Silencing of the Lambs. All advocacy — including suggesting that the law might be repealed — will land you in jail. With this clause, there will be no one left to defend anyone.
Clause 14: The Requirement Isn’t To Report Just Gay People To Police. It’s To Report Everyone. Look closely: the requirement is to report anyone who has violated any the bill’s clauses.
Clauses 16 and 17: The Extra-Territorially Long Arm of Ugandan Law. Think you’re safe if you leave the country? Think again.
Clause 18: We Don’t Need No Stinking Treaties. The bill not only violates several international treaties, it also turns the Ugandan constitution on its head.
Clauses 15 and 19: The Establishment Clauses For The Ugandan Inquisition. These clauses empower the Ethics and Integrity Minister to enforce all of the bill’s provisions. He’s already gotten a head start.
UPDATE: Dykes isn’t just some random Southern Baptist preacher. Jeff Sharlet, author of C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy
, sends this update:
Following his prayer, Dykes was praised by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) for his “evident burden to reach out to help others.”
In 2008, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee presented Dykes with the M.E. Dodd Cooperative Program Award in recognition of his strong support of the denomination’s missionary work around the world. At that time, his church was cited for contributing $18.4 million since 2000 for mission work.
Update: Rep. Gohmert not only attends Dykes’s Green Acres Baptist Church, he is also a former Deacon and teaches Sunday school there.
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’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Remains A Threat Even If Parliament Session Ends Tomorrow
December 13th, 2012
Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda was on hand for a press conference call earlier this afternoon sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Rights. During the phone call, Mugusha brought us up to date on the current status of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
“It is important to note that Parliament is most likely to close tomorrow, the 14th of December, or the 20th of December. The Speaker has indicated that she might ask for an extension to the 20th. If Parliament closes tomorrow, that means this session will have closed before the antigay bill is debated. And then we’ll wait until January when Parliament reconvenes.”
It’s important to note Frank’s last sentence. Once Parliament goes on Christmas break, then it will simply pick up business from where it left off when it reconvenes in January. This is not the same as what happened in May 2011, when the Eight Parliament expired at the end of its five year term. This current Parliament, the Ninth, will remain in effect until 2016.
I wanted to get this out there because it appears that some confusion is circulating about what it will mean procedurally when Parliament goes on break. For example, The Advocate, whose reporter Sunnivie Brydum was also part of the call, is reporting that the bill may “die a procedural death as early as tomorrow.” But moving from one Parliamentary Session to the next does not interrupt the House’s business, nor does it cause any bills to die. When the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was reintroduced into Parliament in February, it occurred during a meeting of the First Session. Since then, Parliament has gone on a couple of breaks, and it officially started its Second Session last summer with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill remaining in play. So as Frank points out, if Parliament does not take up the Anti-Homosexuality Bill before going on its Christmas break, then we will then have to wait until Parliament reconvenes, probably in January, to see what happens then.
As Frank noted, it is unclear whether Parliament will actually break for Christmas tomorrow as originally announced, or whether Speaker Kadaga or her Deputy will call for Parliament to continue meeting next week. Kadaga is currently in Italy where she is leading a Uganda delegation for — get this! – the World Parliamentary Conference on Human Rights. Frank expressed doubt that the Uganda Parliament would take up the bill before going on break, noting that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was at the top of Parliament’s list of “Business to follow” beginning November 27 before dropping to number two a week ago and then to number six yesterday.
But what happens if Parliament does decide to move the Anti-Homosexuality Bill up on its agenda, either before its break or after it returns? Frank told the press conference:
“If this legislation comes before Parliament for debate, there is a lot of support from members of Parliament. So definitely, it will be passed, and if this legislation is passed, it is sent over to the President of Uganda to sign. There has been a rumor that the President of Uganda may not sign this legislation, and in that case, I think the President might sign this legislation.
“However, he might ask for this legislation to be reviewed and watered down. Also, if he refused to sign this legislation and it has been rejected, our Parliament can still pass the legislation if a certain percentage of Parliament supports the legislation.”
According to Uganda’s Constitution (PDF: 460KB/192 pages, see pages 68-69), the pathway looks like this:
91. Exercise of legislative powers.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the power of Parliament to make laws shall be exercised through bills passed by Parliament and assented to by the President.
(2) A bill passed by Parliament shall, as soon as possible, be presented to the President for assent.
(3) The President shall, within thirty days after a bill is presented to him or her—
(a) assent to the bill;
(b) return the bill to Parliament with a request that the bill or a particular provision of it be reconsidered by Parliament; or
(c) notify the Speaker in writing that he or she refuses to assent to the bill.
(4) Where a bill has been returned to Parliament under clause (3)(b) of this article, Parliament shall reconsider it and if passed again, it shall be presented for a second time to the President for assent.
(5) Where the President returns the same bill twice under clause (3)(b) of this article and the bill is passed for the third time, with the support of at least two-thirds of all members of Parliament, the Speaker shall cause a copy of the bill to be laid before Parliament, and the bill shall become law without the assent of the President.
(6) Where the President—
(a) refuses to assent to a bill under clause (3)(c) of this article, Parliament may reconsider the bill and if passed, the bill shall be presented to the President for assent;
(b) refuses to assent to a bill which has been reconsidered and passed under paragraph (a) or clause (4) of this article, the Speaker shall, upon the refusal, if the bill was so passed with the support of at least two-thirds of all members of Parliament, cause a copy of the bill to be laid before Parliament, and the bill shall become law without the assent of the President.
(7) Where the President fails to do any of the acts specified in clause (3) of this article within the period prescribed in that clause, the President shall be taken to have assented to the bill and at the expiration of that period, the Speaker shall cause a copy of the bill to be laid before Parliament and the bill shall become law without the assent of the President.
It appears that the President can reject a bill he doesn’t like, but in the end he is ultimatenly subject to an over-ride by a two-thirds vote of Parliament.
If some form of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill does become law, Frank confirmed that SMUG plans to challenge the law in court for numerous violations of the Uganda Constitution.
Uganda (Seemingly) Backs Off From Anti-Homosexuality Bill (Maybe) (For Now)
December 13th, 2012
Uganda’s WBS Television posted this statement from Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who addressed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which is now before Parliament:
In Uganda, we have had homosexuality for generations. Everybody knows it. You know, various local languages, we have a name for homosexuals, don’t we? We do. That means it has been there. Whoever had the homosexual was.. was killed. But there is a way in our cultures, we handle them to show our displeasure and no-acceptance of homosexual activities — homosexuality and homosexual activities, you should mark the difference between the two. Okay?
We know that in our own Penal Code, we carried this from the British. We amended this law, the Penal Code by Parliament (I’ve forgotten the year). That particular provision was amended. So it is unlawful already. So to the extent that it is unlawful, and the attempt in this bill to repeat what is already unlawful is not something we’ll support, supporting what is already in the bill. Why? Why won’t we support it? Because it’s already covered.
But there are certain aspects which may be new, like promotion of homosexuality, things like that. Those are things, when we come to debate, we’ll [unintelligible]… We set up a committee which has made a report, we go through this…
It’s a puzzling statement. While he doesn’t say so directly, Mbabazi appears to distance himself and the government from the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, while simultaneously referring to perhaps retaining Clause 13 (which bans all advocacy for LGBT rights) or other recommendations which the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has reportedly made but has refused to make public. Nevertheless, Mbabazi’s statement is notable. He was one of the figures believed to have “blocked” the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it came up in the previous Parliament, and Ugandan LGBT advocates last week targeted him in a Twitter campaign urging him to speak out against the bill.
As always, we need to look at these latest developments in a broader context. During an unannounced session late last Friday, Parliament passed a contentious Petroleum Bill, which concentrates exclusive power to negotiate exploration and drilling contracts in the hands of the presidentially-appointed Energy Minister and cuts all outside observers out of any oversight role. Parliament has 375 members, and exactly 188 members — just half a member above the magic 187.5 halfway mark for a quorum — just happened to be in the chambers for the fateful vote, which passed easily. Wow! Who would have thought that they would have been able to round up the exact minimum number from among those who just happend to be hanging around the Parliament building late on a Friday afternoon? It wasn’t a unanimous vote — it was 149-39 — but just by showing up to form a quorum, those thirty-nine no votes were, for all practical purposes, yes votes.
President Yoweri Museveni now gained control over the country’s oil. And with word of the maneuver coming out in what we Westerners recognize as a classic Friday afternoon news dump, the country had the weekend to decide that there was no point in protesting any further. Ubiquitous corruption has a way of numbing the senses. And so the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which had been waiting in the wings in case a diversion was needed, has now been pushed down from the top spot to number 6 under “Business to Follow” on Parliament’s Order Paper for yesterday (DOC: 37KB/2 pages). Today’s Order Paper (DOC: 33KB) shows that Parliament will meet for a Special Sitting for an address by Museveni, undoubtedly to talk about why it is so important for one person to control the country’s entire oil wealth.
Meanwhile, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who helped engineer the bill’s reintroduction in February and called for its passage before Parliament begins its Christmas breaks on December 15, has suddenly turned up in Vatican City yesterday, where, according to the Parliament web site, she received a special blessing from the Pope while leading a delegation for a World Parliamentary Conference on Human Rights. All of the sudden that Christmas deadline doesn’t seem so important.
Which is just as well, since Museveni has a lot on his plate right now. Back last summer when talk first emerged that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would be revived, the only thing anyone could see on the horizon was the contentious Petroleum Bill. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill would make a handy wingman, if you will, to divert attention away from the Petroleum Bill, if needed. But other nasty surprises have cropped up since then. In addition to pushing the first and most contentious of two Petroleum Bills through Parliament, Museveni is furiously trying to broker some kind of a truce/cease-fire/peace deal between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the M23 rebels in the eastern part of that country after a United Nations report blasted Uganda and Rwanda for supporting the rebels.
And Museveni is having to contend with foreign aid cuts in response to a massive corruption scandal in the Prime Minister’s office — that would be the very same Prime Minister who issued the statement above. Germany, Britain, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have all announced cuts to direct government-to-government aid to Uganda following revelations that foreign aid funds have wound up in the private bank accounts of several people in the Prime Minister’s office. Uganda, for its part, has acknowledged the scandal (it was a Ugandan auditor which brought it to light). Museveni’s government has taken notice and vowed to refund the stolen funds — with the Ugandan taxpayers footing the bill. Interestingly, when Germany announced its aid cuts, Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel specifically cited Uganda’s meddling in the Congo and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as reasons number two and three respectively (reason number one, of course, was the foreign aid scandal). But a spokesperson for Museveni took pains last week to deny that the Congo mess or the Anti-Homosexuality Bill had anything to do with Germany’s announcement:
It is not true that the suspension is a result of false allegation by the UN group of experts that Uganda supports the M23 rebels in the DRC. Being a member of the UN Security council, The Federal Government of Germany is satisfied with Uganda’s role in the pacification of Eastern DRC, under the mandate of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region that is currently chaired by President Museveni.
It is equally NOT true that the suspension of Aid is tagged to the current debate in parliament on Homosexuality.
While that’s going on at home, Museveni found time earlier this week to take a trip to Russia where he was “decorate(d) with the highest award order of valour, honour and glory of the Eminent Military and Political leaders of Africa.” Whatever that means. Why he’s really there is anybody’s guess. The last time he went to Russia, he came home with some expensive MiG jet fighters and left it to Parliament to figure out how to pay for the unbudgeted multi-million dollar aircraft. Whatever Museveni’s doing there this time, nobody knows. But he took the opportunity to lambast the West for its “hegemonism and imperialist practices. …Whatever is pushing those actors [in the West]; they are making a big mistake. Cooperating with Africa is the wise thing to do.”
So, this is what we have. Uganda has gotten more of its share of international attention due to scandals, civil wars and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and all of that attention has been decidedly negative. And we see that Ugandan officials are visibly striving to put out at least two of those fires in order to get back into the West’s good graces. And with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill dropping to priority six on Parliament’s “Business to Follow” and Prime Minister Mbabazi’s statement at the top of this post, we may be seeing positive movement on the third fire. It turns out that the negative attention internationally has outweighed whatever diversionary value the bill might have had domestically. Speaker Kadaga’s “Christmas gift” to the Ugandan people just might end up being not passing the bill. At least for the time being.