Uganda Anti-Homosexuality BillFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search
The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power protests in New York City against Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality BillIn Uganda, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, if enacted, would broaden the criminalisation of homosexuality by introducing the death penalty for people who have previous convictions, are HIV-positive, or engage in same sex acts with people under 18 years of age. The bill also includes provisions for Ugandans who engage in same-sex sexual relations outside of Uganda, asserting that they may be extradited for punishment back to Uganda, and includes penalties for individuals, companies, media organisations, or non-governmental organisations that support LGBT rights.
The private member's bill was submitted by MP David Bahati in Uganda on 14 October 2009. Homosexuality is currently illegal in Uganda—as it is in many sub-Saharan African countries—punishable by incarceration in prison for up to 14 years. The proposed legislation in Uganda, however, has been noted by several news agencies to be inspired by American evangelical Christians.
A special motion to introduce the legislation was passed a month after a two-day conference was held where three American Christians asserted that homosexuality was a direct threat to the cohesion of African families. The bill, the government of Uganda, and the evangelicals involved have received significant international media attention and criticism from Western governments, some of whom have threatened to cut off financial aid to Uganda. In response to the attention, a revision was introduced to soften the strongest penalties for the most egregious offenses to life imprisonment.
Intense international reaction to the bill caused President Yoweri Museveni to form a commission to investigate the implications of passing the bill. In May 2010 the committee recommended withdrawing it, but it remains under discussion in parliament as of February 2011.
3.1 Outing gays in the media
3.2 International governments
3.3 Religious and human rights organisations
4 See also
7 External links
 BackgroundAccording to human rights organisations, about 500,000 homosexuals live in Uganda out of a total population of 31 million. Existing laws criminalise homosexual behavior with prison sentences lasting up to 14 years. These laws are remnants of British colonialism designed to punish what colonial authorities deemed "unnatural sex" among local Ugandan people. Although many societies in Africa and elsewhere view homosexuality as a decadent practice imported by outsiders, it existed before European colonisation, often varying in practice depending on individual cultures. In some, male homosexuality was age-stratified, similar to ancient Sparta and Athens where warriors purchased boys as brides, common when women were not available, or manifested as fleeting encounters as in prostitution.
Despite this past, colonial influence has been pervasive; according to a reporter in Africa, "Africans see homosexuality as being both un-African and un-Christian". Thirty-eight of fifty-three African nations criminalise homosexuality in some way. In sub-Saharan Africa, the government of South Africa is the only official entity to acknowledge gay rights, but even there curative rape is often used against men and women (such as in the murder of Eudy Simelane), and sometimes met with police inaction and apathy. Like the conditions in many other African nations, gays in Uganda currently face an atmosphere of physical abuse, vandalism to their property, blackmail, death threats, and "correctional rape".
From 5 to 8 March 2009, a workshop took place in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, that featured three American evangelical Christians: Scott Lively, an author who has written several books opposing homosexuality; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-professed former gay man who conducts sessions to heal homosexuality; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, an organisation devoted to promoting "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ". The theme of the conference, according to The New York Times, was the "gay agenda": "how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how 'the gay movement is an evil institution' whose goal is 'to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity' ". An Anglican priest from Zambia named Kapya Kaoma was in attendance, and reported on the conference. Ugandan Stephen Langa organised it, and was supported by Lively, who asserted in his workshops that homosexuality was akin to child molestation and bestiality, and causes higher rates of divorce and HIV transmission. Lively's emphasis was on the cohesion of the African family, that he said was being threatened by homosexuals looking to recruit youth into their ranks. According to Kaoma, during the conference, one of the thousands of Ugandans in attendance announced, "[The parliament] feels it is necessary to draft a new law that deals comprehensively with the issue of homosexuality and...takes into account the international gay agenda... Right now there is a proposal that a new law be drafted."
 ContentsIn April 2009, the Ugandan Parliament passed a resolution allowing Member of Parliament (MP) David Bahati to submit a private member's bill in October to strengthen laws against homosexuality. The bill was proposed on 13 October 2009 by Bahati and is based on the foundations of "strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family", that "same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic", and "protect[ing] the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda".
The legislation strengthens the criminalisation of homosexuality in Uganda by introducing the death penalty for people who are considered serial offenders, are suspected of "aggravated homosexuality" and are HIV-positive, or who engage in sexual acts with those under 18 years of age. People who are caught or suspected of homosexual activity will be forced to undergo HIV tests; Ugandans who engage in same-sex sexual relations outside Uganda will likewise fall under the jurisdiction of this law, and may be extradited and charged with a felony. Furthermore, if passed, the bill will require anyone who is aware of an offense or an offender, including individuals, companies, media organisations, or non-governmental organisations who support LGBT rights, to report the offender within 24 hours. If an individual does not do so he or she is also considered an offender and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 250 "currency points" or imprisonment up to three years.
 RevisionAt the time the bill was introduced, an independent MP stated he thought it had about a 99% chance of passing. Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni openly expressed his support for the bill, stating "We used to say Mr and Mrs, but now it is Mr and Mr. What is that now?" After facing intense international reaction and promises from Western nations to cut financial aid to Uganda, on 9 December, Uganda's Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba Buturo said that Uganda will revise the bill to drop the death penalty (substituting life imprisonment) for homosexuals with multiple offences. Initially, however, Buturo stated Uganda's government was determined to pass the bill "even if meant withdrawing from international treaties and conventions such as the UN's Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and foregoing donor funding", according to an interview in The Guardian. Since then, however, The Guardian has stated that David Bahati, the bill's sponsor, has denied these reports. On 23 December, Reuters reported that Buturo again said that the death penalty would be dropped from the bill. He claims, however, that the protest from the Western nations did not have an effect on this decision. He stated, "There have been a lot of discussions in government ... regarding the proposed law, but we now think a life sentence could be better because it gives room for offenders to be rehabilitated. Killing them might not be helpful."
On 8 January 2010, Bahati again asserted he would not postpone or shelve the bill, even after Minister of State for Investment Aston Kajara stated the Ugandan government would ask Bahati to withdraw it, and President Museveni asserted he thought it was too harsh. Bahati stated, "I will not withdraw it. We have our children in schools to protect against being recruited into (homosexuality). The process of legislating a law to protect our children against homosexuality and defending our family values must go on." The bill is scheduled to be discussed in Uganda's parliament in late February or March 2010.
On 12 January 2010, President Museveni expressed to the media that there is need to exercise "extreme caution", and his cabinet members will speak to Bahati to reach a compromise to satisfy Bahati's concerns weighed with the calls he is receiving from throughout the world.
 ResponseWithin Uganda, gay and human rights advocates were alarmed. Before the proposed legislation, many had felt a gradual easing of enforcement of laws designed to punish people for homosexual behavior. Amnesty International, however, reports that arrests of people suspected of having homosexual relations are arbitrary, and detainees are subjected to torture and abuse by authorities. Within the latter part of 2009, many felt they must leave the country or go into hiding. Kapya Kaoma characterized the attempts to portray homosexuals as a threat to the African family as especially egregious, putting people's lives in danger: "When you speak like that, Africans will fight to the death."
Even apart from the legislation to punish homosexuals, Ugandan human rights have been a concern for Amnesty International, who highlighted issues such as threats to freedom of expression and association, and the use of torture by law enforcement, among their major concerns in their 2009 report. American evangelists active in Africa are being criticised for being responsible for inspiring the legislation by inciting hatred with excessive speech by comparing homosexuality to paedophilia and influencing public policy with donations from American religious organisations. Among the critics are The Times, Jeffrey Gettleman in The New York Times, Time, PublicEye.org, The Guardian, a pan-African internet news journal for social justice named Pambazuka News, and an international organisation with a similar objective named Inter Press Service.[note 1]
American evangelicals such as Scott Lively and California pastor Rick Warren have a history of involvement in Uganda where they focus their missionary work. As a result, Warren and others have become influential in the shaping of public policy in Uganda, Nigeria, and to a lesser extent, Kenya. Stephen Langa, the March 2009 workshop organiser, specifically cited an unlicensed conversion therapist named Richard A. Cohen, who states in a book that was given to Langa and other prominent Ugandans,
Homosexuals are at least 12 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals; homosexual teachers are at least 7 times more likely to molest a pupil; homosexual teachers are estimated to have committed at least 25 percent of pupil molestation; 40 percent of molestation assaults were made by those who engage in homosexuality.
These statements were based on faulty studies performed by Paul Cameron, who has been expelled from the American Psychological Association, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the American Sociological Association, and Cohen confirmed their weaknesses, stating that when the book will be reprinted, these statistics will be removed.
Pambazuka News stated "It's worth noting that it costs a considerable amount of money, time and processes to table a private-member’s bill, which begs the question of how the MP from Kabale District [Bahati] is financing this process? It has also been common practice for the mushrooming pastors and churches to use homophobic attacks on opponents as a way to discredit each other and sway faithfuls." Martin Ssempa, a Ugandan pastor and former affiliate of Warren, has endorsed the bill, and after a period of silence and a refusal to take sides in the matter, Warren has publicly denounced the bill, calling it "un-Christian". In February 2010, to counter opposition to the bill, Ssempa showed gay pornography to 300 members of his church, shocking them with images of explicit sexual acts, and implying that all gay people engage in them, but straight people do not.
During March 2009 Scott Lively met with several legislators and Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Buturo. He followed his visit with a post to his blog saying that he was "overjoyed with the results of our efforts and predicted confidently that the coming weeks would see significant improvement in the moral climate of the nation, and a massive increase in pro-family activism in every social sphere. [Conference organiser Stephen Langa] said that a respected observer of society in Kampala had told him that our campaign was like a nuclear bomb against the 'gay' agenda in Uganda. I pray that this, and the predictions, are true." However, Lively has responded to the bill, saying "I agree with the general goal but this law is far too harsh... Society should actively discourage all sex outside of marriage and that includes homosexuality ... The family is under threat... [Gay people] should not be parading around the streets." Lively has said the bill is a reaction to attempts by Americans and Europeans to "homosexualize" Ugandan society. He further claimed that Ugandan leaders who created the bill are worried about "the many male homosexuals coming in to the country and abusing boys who are on the streets". Richard Cohen has stated he condemns the bill, and that the punitive measures in it are "incomprehensible". Don Schmierer expressed his shock at the legislation, telling The New York Times that although he outlined how homosexuals could change to heterosexual in the March 2009 conference, his involvement was limited to giving seminars to Africans about better parenting skills: "[The bill is] horrible, absolutely horrible... Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people."
In December 2009, the neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Burundi also discussed legislation that would criminalise homosexuality. On 22 December, 2009, several hundred people gathered in Kampala to show their support for the bill, protesting against homosexuals. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports, "The protesters, led by born-again clerics, cultural leaders, and university undergraduates, marched to the parliament where they presented a petition."
On 11 January 2010, Uganda's Media Centre, a government-sponsored website, released a statement titled "Uganda is being judged too harshly", reacting to the worldwide media attention the country has received about the bill, stating that in response to the negative press they have received it is obvious that "Ugandans (read Africans) have no right to discuss and no right to sovereignty". The message asserted "It is unfortunate that Uganda is now being judged on the actions of opportunists whose ideas are based on violence and blackmail and even worse, on the actions of aid attached strings. (Homosexuality). It is regrettable that government is pretentiously expected to observe their 'human rights', yet, by their own actions, they have surrendered their right to human rights."
 Outing gays in the mediaIn April 2009 a local Ugandan newspaper printed the names of suspected homosexuals, another printed tips on how to identify gays for the general public, and in October 2010, another named Rolling Stone published a story featuring a list of the nation's 100 "top" gays and lesbians with their photos and addresses. Next to the list was a yellow strip with the words "hang them". Julian Pepe, a program coordinator for Sexual Minorities Uganda, said people named in the story are living in fear and attacks have begun prompting many to abandon their jobs while some have relocated. The paper's editor justified the list to expose gays and lesbians so authorities could arrest them, while Nsaba Buturo dismissed complaints from gays and sympathisers by stating protests about the outing is part of a campaign to mobilise support and sympathy from outside the country.
On 26 January 2011, Uganda's most prominent gay activist, David Kato, was found bludgeoned to death in what authorities in Uganda are characterising as a robbery. His photograph had been published in Rolling Stone; the high court in the country ordered the newspaper to stop publishing images of gays and lesbians after Kato and several others sued the paper. Kato spoke at a United Nations-sponsored conference on the bill in December 2009. His words were barely audible because he was nervous; information in U.S. embassy cables revealed that Ugandan human rights activists and anti-homosexuality bill supporters vocally mocked him during his presentation. The U.S. diplomat reporting, whose communiques were exposed through Wikileaks, wrote that the political and economic problems in Uganda were being channeled into "violent hatred" of gays, and David Bahati, Martin Ssempra, and James Buturo were primarily responsible for promoting the wave of intolerance. The diplomat further stated that even if the bill does not pass in Ugandan parliament, "rampant homophobia in Uganda won't go away".
 International governmentsSeveral leaders from other nations have expressed their concerns. On 27 November, 2009, during the Heads of State Meeting, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, expressed his opposition of the bill to Uganda president Yoweri Museveni. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also expressed opposition privately to Museveni during the Commonwealth leaders' meeting. The Canadian Transport Minister John Baird stated to The Globe and Mail, "The current legislation before Parliament in Uganda is vile, it’s abhorrent. It’s offensive. It offends Canadian values. It offends decency." Australia's government reiterated its opposition to the criminalisation of homosexuality in the Sydney Morning Herald, but as of 8 January 2010 had not made a statement to the Ugandan government, despite activists' efforts for it to do so.
The government of France has also criticised the bill, citing a "deep concern". The European Parliament on 16 December 2009 passed a resolution against the bill, which threatens to cut financial aid to Uganda. On 3 December 2009 the Swedish government, which has had a long-term relationship with Uganda, said that it would revoke its $50 million (£31 million) development aid to Uganda if the bill passes, calling it "appalling". Sweden's Development Assistance Minister Gunilla Carlsson stated that she "thought and hoped we had started to share common values and understanding". Dirk Niebel, the Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that financial aid to Uganda will be cut, a stepwise plan for this has already been made.
The White House released a statement to The Advocate, stating that United States president Barack Obama "strongly opposes efforts, such as the draft law pending in Uganda, that would criminalize homosexuality and move against the tide of history". Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has expressed her opposition of the bill and U.S. congressmen Tom Coburn (R-OK), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) have likewise stated theirs.
The Welsh Assembly Government says that it will not cut its £75,000 aid to Uganda despite objection of the bill. Welsh officials state that the aid is for the city of Mbale, and not the Ugandan government.
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Kampala's sister city, the city council passed a resolution opposing the bill.