Tuesday 12 April 2011

"Huge" anti-gay campaign unfolding in Uganda

Ssempa and Oyet deliver petition to Parliament
By Paul Canning

Despite reports that Uganda's 'kill the gays' bill has been stopped in the Ugandan Parliament following an announcement by President Yoweri Musevini’s government, anti-gay forces have upped their efforts to have it become law.

Leading anti-gay activist Martin Ssempa presented a petition said to be signed by two million people to the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament 7 April.

Ssempa leads an 'Inter-Religious Taskforce Against Homosexuality' and said that "the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is being deliberately killed largely by the undemocratic threats of western nations." At the Parliament he presented "former homosexuals", one of whom claimed he had been raped by the murdered gay activist David Kato. Another accused 19 human rights groups, including Amnesty International, of 'financing the recruitment of young Ugandans into homosexual lifestyles.'

A day earlier student leaders from Uganda's leading Makerere University had claimed according to the Daily Monitor newspaper that "recruitment of gays was rampant at the university campus." They claimed that "each of their colleagues who join homosexuals is paid a monthly salary of Shs800, 000" (£200).

Voice of America reported Speaker Edward Kiwanuka as appearing to be "uncomfortable" throughout the half-hour presentation of Pastor Ssempa and his Task Force.

Kiwanuka repeated the line which emerged from Uganda last week, saying:
“In this one I really don't know what will happen. But I wish to tell you that there are other people arguing that 'no, the bill is not necessary because there are other laws in our penal code that can cater for the situations that you have stated here.'  And you know people are saying that this is a violation of human rights."
However Kiwanukaalso said that "even if the current Parliament doesn’t debate it, the new Parliament will do it."

Uganda observer Warren Throckmorton says:
"Ssekandi could be relying on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee to stall the situation. He may know that there are too many bills to consider and that he will never see the report which he told the petitioners [Ssempa and friends] would trigger a vote in parliament. However, note that he did not reject the bill or say it was shelved."
Blogger Gay Uganda reports that "a huge anti-gay campaign is happening." Anti-gay speakers "are fanning out all over the country" he said, speaking to schools, or radio and TV. He says that there are parliamentary elections due, suggests that the bill is not dead and says it will be introduced in the next parliament. He also asks: "Where is the money coming from for this apparently well coordinated, huge campaign? The anti-Homo campaign?"

Horizon Community Association of Rwanda (HOCA) president and International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Alternate Co-Secretary General, Naomi Ruzindana, in a letter published by the anti-gay tabloid newspaper Red Pepper, has appealed to President Museveni to help provide security for members of the gay community in the face of continued hate attacks.

ILGA congratulated Ruzindana for writing the letter and noted that many of the online comments to the article were extremely homophobic with calls for the dead penalty for Ugandan gays and for them to get visas to emigrate to countries that allow for their 'abomination'.

Updated to add: Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin reports that Wikileaks has indicated that Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni doesn't want the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to come up for a vote in Parliament. In response to an uptick in pressure to pass the bill, his Cabinet is offering a solution to the whole mess: move the provisions to two other bills and maybe they can be implemented unnoticed.
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