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Saturday, 20 August 2011

Uganda 'Kill gays' bill 'back within fortnight', reintroduction 'by stealth'

By Paul Canning

According to two journalist sources in Uganda, the infamous 'kill gays' bill will be revived in that nation's parliament "within two weeks". Other reports have said this will happen 'by stealth'.

The journalists spoke confidentially to a longstanding contact of LGBT Asylum News from a diplomatic background and with extensive Ugandan contacts.

The contact warned that both EU and American pressure on Uganda's leadership to stop the bill, including threats to foreign aid support in the Ugandan government's budget, will have to be quickly revived.

In July blogger Warren Throckmorton spoke with Ugandan MP Hon. Otto Odonga who told him that the Parliament will bring back the Anti-Homosexuality (aka 'Kill gays') Bill (AHB) “by the end of August.”

Ugandan blogger Angelo Izama reported 14 August that:
"My sources in parliament .. [say that] because of the world wide storm [the AHB] generated it will come to the House for debate in stealth not reflected in “ the order paper” of the day."
Izama says that Bill author and chief promoter David Bahati MP told her that the AHB would return in November.

Throckmorton says that according to Odonga, the Ugandan Parliament's Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, has assured MPs that the AHB will be moved ahead from the last parliament. Thus, it would be old business and could be brought forward at her discretion. Throckmorton says that Ugandan government ministers have been:
"Quietly appealing to MPs to pass the bill via letters and emails."
Update: According to Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper the AHB was considered by the Cabinet:
The decision to throw out the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was made at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday [17 August] where [ruling party lawyer] Mr Mwesige, according to sources, told ministers that the Bill was unnecessary since government has a number of laws in place criminalising homosexual activities.

“We agreed that government should search the law archives and get some of the laws, enforce them rather than having another new piece of legislation,” a source said. “He [Mwesige] said the Bill is overtaken by events and that donors and other sections of the public were not comfortable.”
Mwesige led the parliamentary committee which considered the bill in the last parliament, and it almost came to a vote before running out of time during May. A cabinet committee has previously rejected the bill last year. In the final week of parliament there was much reporting that the provisions providing for the death penalty would be removed by Mwesige's committee - however this did not happen.

David Bahati MP
Bahati was accused at the time of lying about the supposed removal of the death penalty provisions by long time Uganda watcher Jim Burroway.

Another long term Uganda watcher, Melanie Nathan, activist and Publisher of GAY U.S.A. Blog, says that she spoke with Bahati last week:
"I asked him specifically what his plans were for the Bill. He told me that the bill will pass but would not reveal when it would be up for a vote."
"In the year that I have come to know Bahati, I had a strong sense that he was not being forthcoming and immediately suspected that they were trying to pass it under the radar of international scrutiny. He is confident though that it will pass. The question is when. I believe we activists around the world should be making a noise about it now, as if it is happening today. "
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