A week ago the world was hearing from Uganda the 'news' that the death penalty was being dropped from the infamous 'kill the gays' Anti-Homosexuality bill. Previous to that the world's media gave the impression following some statement's from the government that the fight was over, the bill had been killed, kicked into the long grass. The word from Kampala was that it wouldn't even be discussed in Parliament - there were more important bills waiting for a vote.
Then came the protests which have been convulsing Kampala for the past few weeks, led by opposition leader Kissa Besigyne, against price hikes. The peaceful 'walk to work' protests have suffered attacks from police and Besigyne has been shot. Protesters have been killed. Besigyne is now receiving treatment not in Kampala but in Nairobi.
Discussing the widely-reported statement by Anti-Homosexuality bill author David Bahati MP on the death penalty, Uganda observer Warren Throckmorton suggested last week that "given the information, I have been getting from close to the Cabinet", moving to a vote on the bill "will not be viewed favorably by the ruling party."
But Throckmorton also wrote that "an alternative view is that a focus on homosexuality might take the minds of the people off of the recent riots and arrests of opposition party leaders."
This is now happening.
The blogger GayUganda reports that the bill is under discussion in the Ugandan Parliament today precisely because "the government needs a heady diversion for the country". Even though this is the tail end of a Parliament ending next week, GayUganda says that the bill will be passed in the next one.
Updated to add: Throckmorton says:
"There is concern among GBLT advocates there that the bill could be scheduled for vote next week. If hearings are indeed taking place, then the Committee could fast track the bill to the floor on Monday or Tuesday. The Parliament is slated to end on May 11, with the Presidential inauguration on May 12."Bahati told Throckmorton: “I know that the process of legislation is moving forward.”
Reporting this news GayUganda says it will appall the international community. But - as he thanks us for our help - he has a clear message:
Hey, so, what should you do?
People, I am a gay man, who is Ugandan. I can be killed because of being gay in Uganda. But, I can also be killed because of the general abuse of human rights in the country.
I REQUEST, AND BEG OF YOU, OUR ALLIES, NOT TO BE FOOLED.
That is very important.
If you want to condemn the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, please CONDEMN in the strongest terms possible, the general state of Human rights in Uganda.
|Police attack protesters in Kampala|
Oh, the Bill will be passed in parliament. Have no doubt about that.But GayUganda believes that the 'diversion' in the debate and passage of the Anti-Homosexuality bill "is not going to work."
But, remember that this is time for the GAY MOVEMENT around the world to make COMMON CAUSE with the average citizen of Uganda to decry the abuse of human rights of ALL UGANDANS.
Do not separate the two issues. Mention both in the same sentence, in the same breath.
Tell this to your leaders in the community, to your leaders in your country. To your leaders in your parliament, and to your leaders nationally and internationaly.
LGBTI rights are HUMAN Rights. They are not divisible. They are not above others, they are not distinct from the others.
Make common cause in demanding the cessation of abuse of rights of Ugandans, including LGBTI ugandans, by the Government of Uganda.
Let the message go out, simple, clear, unambiguous.
LGBTI rights are human rights. And, we are concerned about the rights of ALL Ugandans, including LGBTI Ugandans.
That is the message. That is the statement. That is what we need to say.
And, yes, go ahead and talk. Tell everyone. Because, again, we cannot fight this in Uganda. The diversion will occur if you are outraged, and forget that not only kuchus [LGBT] in Uganda are at risk. Talk, make the bold and angry statements. Make them about Ugandans in general. And also Ugandan kuchus.
UK Ugandans protesting Besigye arrest in Manchester
Because the citizens of Uganda are simply more concerned about the rising prices of food, and the deteriorating human rights situation. Their homophobia is a reflex which the government wants to use. But, it is not likely to work.
Oh, I am gay. I am Ugandan. I know what am talking about.