Uganda Back to Pandering to Bigots With Its Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Uganda earned international condemnation in 2009 when its parliament first considered the Anti-Homosexuality bill, leading the country's president (for life, apparently) Yoweri Museveni to put the bill on the backburner. Evidently the idea was to wait for international scrutiny to die down and then discreetly try again. Perhaps the death of Osama bin Laden looked like a good opportunity to quietly pass the bill through the remaining stages of legislation, which include the second and third readings of the bill and then presidential adoption. According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) the process could be completed within the week.
The IGLHRC issued a press release yesterday:
"We are shocked that after more than 2 years of engagement with the government of Uganda about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, this heinous piece of legislation may still become law," said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Executive Director. "Governments, world religious and political leaders, and HIV prevention experts have all appealed to Ugandan parliamentarians to put their distaste and fear of LGBT people aside and use their better judgment for the good of the country."
The Bill reaffirms existing penalties for consensual same-sex relationships, and criminalizes the "promotion of homosexuality" and failure to report homosexual activity. The Parliamentary Committee itself has said that the provisions of the Bill are redundant and unnecessary. Most controversially, the Bill would punish "aggravated homosexuality" – including activity by "serial offenders" or those who are HIV positive – with the death penalty. To IGLHRC's knowledge, the provisions related to the death penalty remain part of the Bill, despite statements by the Bill's author that these would be removed. The Bill not only violates multiple protections guaranteed by the Constitution of Uganda, but also contravenes the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party.
"There can be no reason to pass this Bill other than to take the attention of Ugandans – and the rest of the world – away from the fact that Uganda is slipping into political chaos," stated Johnson. "Clearly the issue of homosexuality is being used to deflect attention from the crackdown on democracy and freedom of speech that has led to at least 5 deaths, more than 100 injuries, and hundreds of arrests in the last month. IGLHRC stands firm with all the people of Uganda as they struggle to maintain their freedom and dignity."
Let's not allow the Government of Uganda to get away with their underhanded attempt to sanction barbarism while the world looks the other way. The enabling environment the government has provided to deranged bigots has already resulted in the tragic loss of human life, and will no doubt result in more should Uganda's deeply misguided parliament indulge the most fanatical elements of its society. Uganda has a painful past from which it needs to progress forward, rather than backward.
Lauryn Oates is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist.