Posts Tagged As: Uganda

Former Ugandan VP Denounces Anti-Homosexuality Act

Jim Burroway

March 12th, 2014

Uganda’s opposition-leaning weekly Observer reports that former Vice President Specioza Wandira-Kazibwe has called for repeal of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, saying that the law would have a negative impact on public health and Uganda’s international reputation:

Kazibwe, a special envoy of the UN Secretary General for HIV/Aids in Africa, said in a Monday statement that she had told President Museveni that the criminalization of homosexuality only serves to fuel stigma and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and risks undermining the national Aids response, which is otherwise making significant progress.

She wrote: “I am in full solidarity with the LGBT community and I will continue to defend their rights in Uganda and across Africa. Rest assured of my unwavering support and action for the realization of the rights for every human being, which has been my struggle since childhood.

I will not reverse my path. I will continue to engage with the government of Uganda and civil society organizations on this important matter, and I continue to urge the Government of Uganda to revise or repeal the Anti-Homosexuality Act at the earliest opportunity.”

Wandira-Kazibwe was training as a surgeon before turning to public health policy and serving as Vice President from 1994 to 2003.

Mother Jones on “American Pastor Behind Uganda’s Anti-Gay Crackdown”

Jim Burroway

March 10th, 2014

Longtime BTB readers will recognize much of what Mother Jones’ Mariah Blake covers, but the value of this article is in pulling together Lively’s career over the past decade into one place for a much wider audience.

Lively, a 56-year-old Massachusetts native, specializes in stirring up anti-gay feeling around the globe. In Uganda, which he first visited in 2002, he has cultivated ties to influential politicians and religious leaders at the forefront of the nation’s anti-gay crusade. Just before the first draft of Uganda’s anti-gay bill began circulating in April 2009, Lively traveled to Kampala and gave lengthy presentations to members of Uganda’s parliament and cabinet, which laid out the argument that the nation’s president and lawmakers would later use to justify Uganda’s draconian anti-gay crackdown—namely that Western agitators were trying to unravel Uganda’s social fabric by spreading “the disease” of homosexuality to children. “They’re looking for other people to be able to prey upon,” Lively said, according to video footage. “When they see a child that’s from a broken home it’s like they have a flashing neon sign over their head.

Lively is not the only US evangelical who has fanned the flames of anti-gay sentiment in Uganda. As they lose ground at home, where public opinion and law are rapidly shifting in favor of gay equality, religious conservatives have increasingly turned their attention to Africa. And Uganda, with its large Christian population, has been particularly fertile ground for their crusade. Journalist (a past Mother Jones contributor) Jeff Sharlet has reported at length on the Family, a politically connected US-based ministry, which promotes hard-line social policies in the East African nation.

But, according to Ugandan gay-rights activists, Lively has played an unparalleled role in fostering the climate of hate that gave rise to Uganda’s anti-gay law. “The bill is essentially his creation,” says Frank Mugisha, director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a coalition of gay-rights organizations. Mugisha’s group has filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in US federal court, accusing Lively of international crimes against humanity on the grounds that he and his Ugandan allies allegedly conspired to deprive gay Ugandans of basic human rights.

The piece also includes additional video from Lively’s 2009 conference in Kampala.

Vatican Cardinal Criticizes Criminalization of Homosexuality

Jim Burroway

March 5th, 2014

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana has called on Uganda to repeal its Anti-Homosexuality Act:

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said Tuesday that “homosexuals are not criminals” and shouldn’t be sentenced for up to life in prison. Speaking to reporters in Bratislava where he attended a conference on the Catholic Church and human rights, Turkson said the Vatican also calls on the international community to keep providing aid.

Cardinal Turkson’s comments are considered significant in Catholic circles for two reasons: he’s a member of the Roman Curia, and he’s sometimes mentioned as being among the “papabile” or potential candidates to be elected pope in a future conclave.

Uganda’s Anglican Archbishop “Ready To Break Away”

Jim Burroway

March 3rd, 2014

Uganda’s Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali made the threat during a sermon yesterday:

The Archbishop of Church of Uganda (CoU) has responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, saying Uganda is ready to break away from the Church of England if its views on homosexuality are not respected.

Addressing Christians at St Andrews Church, Bukoto yesterday, Archbishop Stanley Ntangali [sic] said the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York John Sentamu recently wrote to him, saying the Church of England was concerned about the CoU’s anti-homosexuality stand.

“I have written back to Archbishop Sentamu. I told him it does not matter even if we do not work with them because the Church of England is a product of repentance and USA is founded on Christian values but they seem to have become spiritually blind,” Bishop Ntangali [sic] said.

Shortly after Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Ntagali thanked Parliament during a Christmas message.

Ugandan Tabloids Continue Outing Campaigns

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2014

Hello, February 26, 2014.

The ink was barely dry on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act when Uganda’s notorious tabloid Red Pepper launched a massive outing campaign on Tuesday, revealing the names, addresses and places of employment for as many as two hundred LGBT Ugandans, many of whom were private citizens who had never disclosed their sexuality publicly, and some of whom, undoubtedly, may have been falsely identified. Red Pepper followed that on Wednesday with more front-page headlines promising “new pictures of gays inside” along with an alleged threat that “homos vow to shed blood over M7 law.” (“M7” is a common shorthand for President Yoweri Museveni’s last name.). That same day, a rival tabloid, Hello, featured a front page screaming, “Defiant! Top City Homos Throw Mega Bash.”

Red Pepper, dated Friday, February 28.

Red Pepper‘s reign of terror has continued unabated all week, with some issues coming out as much as a full day earlier than usual, and each with more salacious stories reputedly “exposing” Uganda’s gay underground. Thursday’s Red Pepper included a cover story warning that “Homos go to court over anti-gay law.”  That same day, Red Pepper rushed out its Friday edition, which twisted earlier interviews and statements from Ugandan LGBT advocates and turned them into potentially violence-inciting anti-gay propaganda. The same issue also claimed to have stories of Ugandan celebrities “spill(ing) gay secrets.”

Inside spread of Red Pepper, dated Saturday, March 1.

Saturday’s edition, which was out by 2:00 p.m. Friday, included a spread featuring photos, names and addresses of LGBT Ugandans were allegedly part of a “homo cabinet.” The same issue boasted another feature titled, “How to prevent your child from becoming a homo.”

Red Pepper, dated March 2, 2014.

Sunday’s edition of Red Pepper was rushed out Saturday afternoon, which included more outing allegations by anti-gay pastor Solomon Male. You may recall that Male, while deeply anti-gay, opposed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, charging that it was providing cover for prominent people in Uganda’s government who were supposedly “luring” children in to homosexuality. I don’t have many details of Male’s charges in this edition, except that it includes more “outing” allegations of private and public individuals. The same edition also included an extensive section alleging that foreign non-nongovernemntal organizations (NGOs), as well as allegations concerning gay students in schools.

Red Pepper is an old hat at these anti-gay vigilante campaigns. In April 2009, just one month after Scott Lively’s highly influential anti-gay conference in KampalaRed Pepper published a list of names, photos, occupations and other identifying information — their “killer dossier,” as they put it – of more than fifty Ugandans they accused of homosexuality. Red Pepper followed in December, two months after the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into Parliament, with another so-called “exposé” of “city tycoons who bankroll Ugandan homos.”

There are currently unconfirmed reports of arrests, beatings, and hospitalizations of LGBT Ugandans and their relatives. Getting conformation about these reports is proving extremely difficult, as virtually all LGBT Ugandans are hunkered down and remaining out of sight:

“The community is very scared, very worried,” said Dickson Mujuni of the RPL AIDS Foundation during a telephone interview from Kampala, the Ugandan capital. “They’re underground.”

…This reporter initially asked Mujuni to speak with him on Skype, but he said those in the Internet café would have potentially assaulted him if they heard him talking about LGBT-specific issues.

“That’s how bad the situation is,” Mujuni told the Blade. “Even when you’re receiving a phone call, you have to talk in such a way that the person next to you does not understand exactly what you’re talking about because if you’re very open in your conversation, it’s very unpredictable. Anything can happen because here we have mob justice… if you’re Skyping and you’re talking about that, you could get beaten up.”


Scotland to Offer Asylum to LGBT Ugandans

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2014

Glasgow is set to host the Commonwealth Games this summer, which several athletes and members of the Ugandan government are expected to attend:

Humza Yousaf, Minister For External Affairs, has written to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague detailing the Scottish Government’s gesture to welcome “any Ugandan” persecuted by the new laws.

…With prominent members of the Ugandan government due in Glasgow this summer, the Scottish Government will also meet representatives of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) groups to discuss proposals on handling human rights issues during the event.

…In his letter Mr Yousaf has urged Mr Hague “to offer asylum to any Ugandans who feels threatened or persecuted by the legis­lation”, adding that “Scotland will play her part in providing asylum for those seeking refuge from this draconian legislation”.

He adds that during the Games “no one from any part of the Commonwealth who visits Scotland will be under any doubt about our values as a welcoming, open and tolerant society”.

A senior source said: “The issue is now so high profile it is hardly something the Scottish Government or anyone involved in the Games can now shy away from.”

Report: Sweden Reconsiders Foreign Aid to Uganda

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2014

According to this report from NTV Uganda, Sweden’s Finance Minister Andes Borg was in Uganda on a visit to highlight Swedish investment oportunities in East Africa. While there, he addressed the problems that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act posed for Sweden’s foreign aid and investment in Uganda:

We are reviewing our own aid program with Uganda, and obviously this is a factor that has to be taken in to account. It is not a posative factor but a major problem that we will have to deal with. But there is also in the Swedish aid to Uganda very important areas supporting the civil society, improving health care and the research and development that are important. So we see this as a Swedish long term commitment to a partnership with Uganda. But this is a political issue that is quite problemantic in the medium and short term, I must say.

…The problems that we have from a Swedish human right perspective on this issue, and the legislation is very problematic from our perspective. And I do think that there are also some broader economic risks, not only when it comes to aid cooperation but also when it comes to tourism and investment where this is a reputation risk for Uganda.

Sweden provides about US$10 million in aid to Uganda. Shortly after the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was proposed in 2009, Sweden warned Uganda that the bill was placing Sweden’s foreign aid at risk. In 2012 Sweden suspended a portion of its aid to Uganda, as did Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Britain, following revelations that  $15 million in aid from those countries had been diverted to private bank accounts of officials in Prime Minister Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s office. Britian’s cut in foreign aid was later extended to the entire Ugandan government. On Thursday, Uganda’s Parliament cleared Mbabazi of wrongdoing despite lingering questions about the scandal.

Norway, Demark and the Netherlands, which collectively had provided $27 million in aid to Uganda, have announced that they are cutting aid to the Ugandan government. On Friday, the  World Bank announced that it was putting on hold a $90 million loan to Uganda’s health service. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the State Department is reviewing its relationship with Uganda. The U.S. currently gives more that $486 million in bilateral aid. On Wednesday, the U.S. Ambassador to Kampala said that the U.S. would deny visas to Ugandans who “incite violence, people who propagate hate, (and) who have used political violence.”

World Bank Delays $90 Million Loan to Uganda

Jim Burroway

February 28th, 2014

The World Bank yesterday announced that it was delaying a US$90 million loan to Uganda’s health system, citing the country’s draconian new Anti-Homosexuality Act that President Yoweri Museveni signed into law on Monday.

We have postponed the project for further review to ensure that the development objectives would not be adversely affected by the enactment of this new law,” World Bank spokesman David Theis said in an email.

…The World Bank, a poverty-fighting institution based in Washington, usually refrains from getting involved in countries’ internal politics or in issues such as gay rights to avoid antagonising any of its 188 member countries.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, however, sent an email to bank staff saying the bank opposes discrimination, and would protect the safety of all employees.

He said passage of the Ugandan law was not an isolated incident, as 83 countries outlaw homosexuality and more than 100 discriminate against women.

“In the coming months, we will have a broad discussion about discrimination with staff, management, and our board on these issues,” Kim said in the email. “Now is the right moment for this conversation.”

The bank’s executive board was set to approve the loan today. The $90 million loan is part of a larger $1.56 billion portfolio the bank has with Uganda. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim wrote an op-ed discussing the broader problems of discrimination of all kinds around the world and how that played into his decision:

These recent anti-gay laws, and many others that have been on the books for years, are acutely ironic. Just 15 years ago, a small band of gay men and women — largely in the United States but also in Europe and parts of Africa — fought with all their intellect, energy and creativity to expand access to treatment for all people with HIV/AIDS. In 2000, just 50,000 people in the developing world received AIDS treatment. Today, largely thanks to the work of these gay activists and others, more than 10 million people are being treated with AIDS drugs — most of them African.

At the World Bank Group, we will have a full internal discussion over the coming months about discrimination more broadly and how it would affect our projects and our gay and lesbian staff members. My view is that the fight to eliminate all institutionalized discrimination is an urgent task.

Norway, Demark and the Netherlands announced this week that they are cutting a combined US$27 million in aid to the Ugandan government. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the State Department is currently reviewing its relationship with Uganda. The U.S. currently gives more that $486 million in bilateral aid.

Meanwhile, Museveni is seeking alternative benefactors. He may find one in Russia:

President Museveni has said he will work with Russians because they don’t meddle in the internal affairs of other countries. …[W]hile commissioning a new flight simulator at the air force headquarters in Entebbe on Friday, Mr Museveni told Obama to stop interfering in the affairs of Uganda, adding he will work with Russia instead of America. “Russia has worked in Africa since 1917, meaning they have been here for more than 100 years. I want to work with Russia because they don’t mix up their politics with other country’s politics,” Mr Museveni said.

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

Jim Burroway

February 27th, 2014

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

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

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

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

Kerry said that the State Department is currently reviewing its relationship with Uganda. The U.S. currently gives more that $486 million in bilateral aid. Norway, Demark and the Netherlands have announced that they are cutting their aid to the Ugandan government. Those three countries collectively had been spending $27 million in aid to Uganda. The value of the Ugandan Shilling has slid more than 2% since President Yoweri Museveni signed the legislation on Monday.

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

Jim Burroway

February 26th, 2014

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

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

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

Uganda starts to feel cost of anti-homosexuality bill

Timothy Kincaid

February 26th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norway, Denmark, Netherlands Cut Aid to Uganda

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014

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

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said his country would withhold about $8 million in aid, saying the law violates “fundamental human rights,” reported Tuesday.

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

…Danish Aid Minister Mogens Jensen indicated his country would divert about $9 million in aid earmarked for Uganda, said.

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

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

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

Sen. Leahy Calls For Review of All Ugandan Assistance

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014

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

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

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


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

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014

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

As a final point I think it is important for people to recognize that the Ugandan law is typical of African criminal law across the continent. Poor countries with limited criminal justice systems tend to rely on the harshness of the letter of the law to be a deterrent to offenders. In practice, the sentencing is usually pretty lenient and I expect that will be the case under this new law as well.

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

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

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014

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