Thursday, 19 May 2011

Uganda 'Kill Gays' bill is back: report

Ugandan tabloid newspaper
By Paul Canning

According to a report from BBC's Africa network the 'Kill Gays' Anti-Homosexuality (AHB) bill has been carried over to the new Ugandan Parliament.

Jim Burroway reports that BBC Network Africa’s Joshua Male said yesterday that:
The 9th Parliament has inherited three controversial bills that form part of its deliberations. They include the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which was shoved at the eleventh hour of the 8th Parliament, the Marriage and Divorce Bill which, among other things, would criminalize marital rape, widow inheritance [sic], in addition to providing for women’s property rights and rights to negotiate sex including seeking divorce on grounds of the man’s impotence or the size of their sexual organ. Another controversial bill is the one that seeks to enact more stringent laws for the media.
Long-term AHB watcher Warren Throckmorton reported yesterday that it was uncertain whether the bill would die with the Parliament's end and noted that "recent statements from Parliament spokespersons and from bill author David Bahati have led to uncertainty about the procedures." This came after the misreporting of the exclusion of the death penalty and other circumstances which surrounded the bill's fate at the end of Uganda's eighth Parliament.

If the bill is the one which follows the recommendations of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, as Throckmorton has also reported, it does still contain the death penalty.

Updated to add: Throckmorton quotes a Parliament spokeswoman questioning the BBC report.

An activist from Uganda told a meeting in Washington DC on Tuesday that any new campaign in support of LGBT Ugandans must also oppose other injustices in Uganda. This was also the message from the Civil Society coalition of 31 organisations opposing the bill.

Whilst the West was focused on homosexuality, Uganda was focused on the return of opposition leader Kissa Besigyne and the repression of demonstrations in Uganda over price rises, human rights and corruption. The AHB has received almost no Ugandan media attention. This led South African writer Theresa Mallinson to suggest that the events had played extremely well for Museveni as the international focus had been elsewhere. (This writer has been unable to locate any petitions or similar against arresting Besigyne or supporting the street protesters in Kampala.)

The BBC Africa report said that a 'anti-rioting' law will be the new Parliament’s first priority, according to Burroway. Besigyne is currently under 'preventative arrest' at his Kampala home.

Val Kalende, who was a close friend of the murdered activist David Kato, told the Tuesday meeting at the World Bank Headquarters:
“We don’t want to present ourselves as special people, we don’t want to present LGBT rights as special rights, we want to create a culture where LGBT rights are deeply entrenched in human rights. And I think that is going to bring about the social change that we need.”
She said that Ugandan LGBT have been facing “a lot of backlash” because of international criticism of the AHB and cautioned that cutting off development aid may make that worse.
“We don’t want our government to come up and start blaming us for the things that have been imposed on them. [On cutting aid] It’s not a question [to which] I can give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, but I think it’s important for us to think about how to create spaces of better dialogue in Uganda.”
LGBT supporters in Malawi have faced sustained and personalised criticism from government and some NGOs over the withdrawal of aid to that country following its criminalisation of lesbians and prosecution for homosexuality.

Kalende said she’d rather see an internal grassroots approach in Uganda to confront the AHB if, or as now reported when, it comes up again as opposed to restrictions on international aid.
“This is an issue of ignorance, and we need to address that within the Uganda kind of context and culture. Because without that debate, I don’t think cutting aid would change anything in Uganda.”
Rep. Barney Frank, the longest-serving openly gay lawmaker in the US Congress, is among those calling on an end to multilateral development aid to Uganda should the country pass the AHB.
“If the bill before the Ugandan parliament becomes law, it must be the policy of the United States government to oppose any aid to Uganda from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, or any other international financial institution of which we are a member,” Frank said.
David Wilson, the World Bank’s global HIV/AIDS program director, told the Tuesday meeting that the act of cutting funds from a country is more difficult for the World Bank than it would be for a country such as the United States as part of a bilateral agreement. But he described calls for good governance and accountability as “entry points” to take action against Uganda.
“Let me also make it clear that if there’s very strong bilateral pressure on the World Bank from its major investors, that’s likely to influence the position we take,” Wilson said.
Writing for Bilerico, Mercedes Allen pointed out that massive funds for HIV/Aids prevention spent by the US in Uganda almost entirely go to religious groups for abstinence-only education, nearly US$285 million, the same groups who have been promoting the AHB:
"The only recipient organization which assisted the highest risk group (gay males) was the Most at Risk Populations Network (to the tune of $5000)."
Under the AHB, groups like the Most at Risk Populations Network would be illegal and their leadership could be imprisoned for up to 7 years for "aiding and abetting homosexuality".

Enhanced by Zemanta


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails