Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Uganda: judgment day for LGBT?

By Paul Canning

We will update this post as news comes in on the 'kill the gays' bill, check our Twitter feed or..

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Update, 2pm GMT: AP just reported that the bill is not on today's Parliament agenda.

The report quotes an MP 'John Alimadi' saying that "the bill may have been dropped from the agenda because of a worldwide outcry against it." There is no MP with that name. Are they quoting opposition MP John Drazu Arumadri ?

A Parliament spokewoman has told Throckmorton that the bill is not on business for today and no more business would be done in this Parliament. But it could be immediately carried forward to the new Parliament session in June.

Update, 3.45pm GMT: Jim Burroway reports that the AP story is inaccurate (this is not a first).

Update, 5pm GMT: Ugandan gay activist Frank Mugisha has posted the following to Facebook:
Camped at Ugandan parliament all day , insulted by some members of parliament bill not debated wait for Friday
Mugisha wrote yesterday:
Am very optimistic the Uganda kill gays bill , wont pass into law, stay strong and let us keep the pressure on very strong !
Update, 5.20pm GMT: Throckmorton has expanded on what Mugisha means by 'wait for Friday:
Parliament spokeswoman Helen Kawesa just told me that Parliament has adjourned but will reconvene on Friday to consider the remaining bills on the agenda. They will begin in the morning and work until all of the bills are considered. The intent is to address all bills. The AHB [Anti-Homosexuality Bill] is the last one and is the most vulnerable but with an all day session, it is possible for it to get a third reading. According to Kawesa, Friday is absolutely the last day however as the new Parliament is sworn in on Monday.


Yesterday, Warren Throckmorton and Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin - who have been following this for over two years and have been the best source of news on developments - told us that the Anti-Homosexuality 'kill the gays' bill will come before Uganda's Parliament today. Warren has been told by its key proponent, David Bahati MP, that the bill has been ammended, including the removal of the death penalty.

Burroway explained yesterday that Bahati has influence over the Parliament Speaker - as he needs support for his re-election - so it is expected that time will be found for its discussion, at the tail end of the current Parliament. Today's Parliament session is expected to run until 8pm or later, Ugandan time.
The 31 member Ugandan Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law warned about so-called 'concessions' in their press release yesterday (our emphasis):
"The Coalition has been reliably informed that attempts have been made to find a ‘win win situation’ which protects both National and International interests by amending those portions of the Bill which are most offensive to international best practice." 
"As a Coalition we do not believe that there is any conflict between national and international perspectives on the failings of the original Bill, nor do we believe that amendments in any way offer an acceptable way forward; while the wording may change, the intention of an Anti-Homosexuality Bill will remain the same: to Kill the Gays. We therefore reject the original Bill, together with any attempts to amend it, in their entirety."
The petition to President Museveni has received an unprecedented 300,000 signatures. It is due to be presented today by Bishop Senyonjo. Another petition by Avaaz has over one million signatures.


The US State Department has signaled that it is closely watching developments and key Congressman Barney Frank has indicated that, if passed, the anti-gay law will have consequences for Uganda's aid.

Right Wing European Union parliament President Jerzy Buzek and the head of the Liberal group in the EU parliament on Tuesday again urged Uganda to think twice about passing the bill into law.

“If the law is approved by the Ugandan parliament, it will be necessary for the EU to review its relationship with the country,” the Liberals’ Guy Verhofstadt said in a statement.

Another group of Members of the European Parliament wrote to Ugandan MPS today and said:
"We are determined that the adoption of any legislation further criminalising consensual sex between adults (including the adoption of this Bill, whether in its current or in any modified form) will have a severe negative impact on our bilateral relations, in both its aid and its diplomatic dimensions."
Yesterday British Foreign Secretary William Hague responded to lobbying on Twitter saying that the Kampala embassy had issued a formal - and rare - diplomatic demarche, a representation of protest/concern, agreed and issued by the EU member states to the Ugandan government.

We will be expanding later today on the consequences if the bill is passed. Done, see post.

US TV News host Rachel Maddow has been reporting on the bill for the past two years. Here is her report from last night:

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