Uganda govt says Anti-Homosexuality Bill not necessary; fate in Parliament unclear – Updated

UPDATE (3/25):

NTV Uganda has the report described below in my original post last night. The Parliament has not spoken on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill but yesterday the Museveni administration did, saying that the bill’s provisions will be covered in other legislation. Roll the tape:

While this is a positive development, it remains to be seen whether or not Bahati will be able to motivate his fellow MPs to pass the bill over the objections of the Museveni administration.

UPDATE: I just now received an email from a listener to Ugandan radio that David Bahati has been assured by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee chair Stephen Tashobya that the AHB will be debated.

Original post 3/24/11, 8:16pm:

This afternoon I have heard from two sources in Uganda that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been shelved. Frank Mugisha, leader in the GLB community in Uganda posted this on his Facebook status:

Anti homosexuality bill should not be discussed, not needed redundant and unnecessary says Ugandan Government.

He followed that up with a message saying that “the bill is shelved…the govt has stopped it.”

I heard from another source that the UG Minister of Information was on NTV Uganda earlier today (evening there) saying that the bill was “unnecessary,” should not be considered and will not be supported by government.

There have been conflicting reports all along and so I hope to get additional information when the light of day visits Uganda. Government pulling out support is a critical issue, but Parliamentary leaders have said in the past that the bill is Parliament’s and will be decided by Parliament. One of the sources I am citing also said Bahati did not sound finished.

Watch this space, I will add news as I get it.

Update (3/25): While the reversal of course of the Museveni administration is a critical blow to the AHB, it seems clear that Bahati disputed the assessment of the government spokeswoman. What is not clear is how willing Bahati and his fellow MPs will be to cross the Museveni administration.

It is also important to add that the govt spokeswoman said that the govt disapproves of homosexuality and did not object to specific aspects of the bill. Rather, she claimed that current law and other proposed bills would handle the same issues.

  • Richard Willmer

    If this is true, then it would be useful if Tashobya’s committee (which includes the Lord Mayor designate of Kampala – someone who is allegedly opposed to the Bill on jurisprudential grounds) were to come to the same conclusion. To this end, it is important that opponents of the Bill, both inside and outside Uganda, continue to put their arguments to Tashobya.

    http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/2011/03/stop-the-ugandan-anti-homosexuality-bill-from-a-vote/

  • Richard Willmer

    It must also be pointed out that the current ‘anti-gay’ laws in UG are still among the harshest in the world. (Is the current maximum sentence of life imprisonment for consensual sexual acts really that much better than a ‘quick death’? Ever so slightly, maybe, but why imprison gays at all for activities for which straights are unpunished?)

  • Richard Willmer

    I just laughed when Bahitler was talking about ‘counselling and caring’ – ‘machete-style’ is presumably what he had in mind! (He did look peeved in that clip.)

    It will be interesting to see what the Sexual Offences (Amendment0 Bill contains. Will it seek to make all sexual offences ‘gender-neutral’, or will it be a ‘Bahati’s back door’ (so to speak!).

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    One could get dizzy watching the status of this bill.

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  • Richard Willmer

    @ David : One cannot discount the possibility that what is happening is designed to make us ‘dizzy’, and we should remain ‘on full alert’.

  • David Blakeslee

    I feel less dizzy, only because people have been on full alert and helped move us all into the real issues of safety and respect and tolerance on this issue.

    Watched the Vanguard: Missionaries of Hate documentary last night. It could not exist without all the efforts here, at Ex-gaywatch, at Box Turtle Bulletin, TWO and Rachel Maddow.

    My prayer is that Evangelicals and Fundamentalists will be given more support in their skepticism of people like Bahati, Lively and Fischer. Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, because of several generations of “anti-intellectual” indoctrination are ripe for the simplistic exploitation and manipulation of such men.

  • http://valkalende@blogspot.com Val Kalende

    David what do you mean by saying,

    “It could not exist without all the efforts here, at Ex-gaywatch, at Box Turtle Bulletin, TWO and Rachel Maddow?”

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Val :

    I suspect that what David means is that international vigilance and pressure has played a part in getting to this point. My own concern is that the prospective Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill will contain specific discriminatory measures aimed at gay people, although I do not know this for certain. Thus continued vigilance is needed.

    http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/ugandas-kill-the-gays-bill-appears-to-be-dead/legislation/2011/03/25/18278

    It is also the case that Bahati (or ‘Bahitler’, as I sometimes call him) and his cronies are far from ‘beaten’; Bahati still uses that old ‘recruitment’ propaganda line, although he never supplies any ‘evidence’ (I wonder why?!). Personally, I think it is important that Tashobya’s committee also reiterates the Government’s line at this stage. Then it will be clear that Bahati has lost this particular battle. The war against the unjust treatment of LGBT persons continues though, and will be long and hard, as you are only too aware, of course.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Val and Richard: I thought that David B. was saying that the documentary film called Vanguard: Missionaries of Hate could not exist without the support of various blogs in the US — not that he was giving the bloggers credit for the events in Uganda.

  • Lynn David

    Perchance the bill has outlasted its usefulness since the NRM still prevailed in the election earlier this year. Bahati just doesn’t understand politics.

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  • Richard Willmer

    @ Lynn David : You may well have a point here! Now the NRM has ‘won’ the elections, it has greater freedom to pursue a policy that could be in Uganda’s interest (e.g. better laws on child protection generally) rather than mess about with dirty gimmicks such as the Bahitler Bill. One should also consider UG’s current economic situation (e.g. food prices have doubled in the last two months): this is not the time for them unnecessarily to alienate development partners.

  • Richard Willmer

    There may another angle to this: the ‘high profile homo-haters’ have caused Uganda quite a lot of embarrassment, which the UG Government now wishes to address. I keep seeing comments from Ugandans like ‘I don’t approve of homosexuality, but these people (i.e. the ‘homo-haters’) are really awful’ on various blogs and discussion boards. (It is also interesting to see how these same commenters are now making a distinction between what they might ‘approve’ or ‘disapprove’ of and who/what should be ‘criminalised’. Someone who once sent me a fairly ‘graphic’ threat because I set out the anti-Bahati case [rather too effectively for his liking, perhaps?], now says that the he does not support ‘criminalisation’ of people simply because they are gay and open about the fact.)

  • Richard Willmer

    On the prospective Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act:

    My guess (but it is only a guess, albeit maybe ever-so-slightly ‘informed’) is that this ‘new approach’ will be based on the following points:

    1. Homosexuality is an expected variation of human sexual lifestyle; it should not be criminalised if consensual and practised in privacy.

    2. Homosexuality exists in Uganda, but is offensive to the majority of [Ugandans], therefore it should not be ‘openly practised’.

    3. Recruitment of especially young people into homosexuality by force, trickery, lure of rewards etc should be criminalised.

    4. Clandestine and open promotion, advertising and glorification of homosexuality should be criminalised.

    5. Rape, or defilement of a minor, whether in heterosexual or homosexual encounters should attract the same severity of punishment.

    6. Nobody should be sentenced to death or have a higher punishment just because they are homosexual or have been engaged in homosexuality.

    I can see problems with 2., 3. and 4.. Point 3. should be extended to cover heterosexual ‘recruitment’ (of which there seems to be plenty going on, from what I hear). Point 2. doesn’t really make sense to me: is it talking about ‘public displays of affection’? If so, then surely it depends on the time and place, just as with heterosexual ‘public displays of affection’. Point 4. is one of those area that is very open to misinterpretation (e.g. does a simple statement of fact, or offer of support, constitute ‘promotion’ or ‘glorification’?) …

  • Richard Willmer

    No comment from ‘Maazi NCO’? I am surprised!

    (Actually, his comments are often rather useful, as they indicate what might or might not be true. When dear ‘Maazi’ rubbishes something or is particularly rude, one know that one has hit a ‘raw nerve’. Can be instructive.)

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    My prayer is that Evangelicals and Fundamentalists will be given more support in their skepticism of people like Bahati, Lively and Fischer. Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, because of several generations of “anti-intellectual” indoctrination are ripe for the simplistic exploitation and manipulation of such men.

    On that I wholeheartedly agree.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ David :

    Mainstream Christians (including evangelicals) are more likely to look at this whole issue in an open-minded way than are fundamentalists. Even in ‘the West’, there are fundamentalists who are rabidly homophobic; such people need to discard their perverted religion if they are to come to their senses on this, and other, matters.

    (The essential philosophical and theological error of fundamentalists is to believe that individuals and societies can be ‘perfected’ [as they see it] by the application of coercion and human systems – the same basic mistake that Nazis etc make. Of course, fundamentalists say that their human system is ‘God’s word’ or ‘God’s will’; it isn’t, of course, but they’re not going to see that very easily, I’m afraid.)

  • Richard Willmer

    I have been advised that it is still possible that the Eighth Parliament could well go ahead and debate the Bahati Bill anyway. Much will depend on whether or not Tashobya’s committee takes a similar view to the Government. (We always knew this, of course, but it’s worth being reminded, so that we and out Uganda allies are not ‘caught napping’.)

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    The essential philosophical and theological error of fundamentalists is to believe that individuals and societies can be ‘perfected’

    Hmmm. If I had to define a “fundamentalist,” I would also recall the words of ex-Muslim author Ibn Warraq and astronomer Carl Sagan.

    Ibn Warraq wrote:

    “[The average Muslim has] a curious tendency to believe that non-Muslims either know that Islam is the truth and reject it out of pure obstinacy, or else are simply ignorant of it and can be converted by elementary explanations. That anyone should be able to oppose Islam with a good conscience quite exceeds the Muslim powers of imagination, precisely because Islam coincides in his mind with the irresistible logic of things.”

    Ibn Warraq was making the larger argument that the “average Muslim” and “fundamentalist Muslim” are the same things; that “average Muslim” and “liberal Muslim” are different things; and that “fundamentalist Muslim” and “Islamic terrorist” are also different things. In other words, he claimed that although the vast majority of Muslims oppose terrorism, they are nonetheless “fundamentalist” in their thinking, while the liberals are every bit as “fringe-y” as the terrorist radicals. And “fundamentalist” is the “average” way to be Muslim in this day and age, according to Ibn Warraq.

    But at any rate, regardless of whether you think Ibn Warraq is correct in relegating “liberal Muslims” to a small fringe, I think that the description of a person who thinks that his own views must have an “irresistible logic” to anyone who listens in good faith should also figure into the definition of “fundamentalist.”

    And Sagan wrote:

    How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said — grander, more subtle, more elegant — God must be even greater than we dreamed”?

    Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.”

    Now, I think that Sagan was being “unfair” and hyperbolic when he wrote that “hardly any major religion” has taken positive inspiration from science. However, I think the hyperbole must be forgiven because the intent was not to merely insult religion for the sake of insulting, but rather to challenge religious people to expand their thinking and prove the insult wrong — much like when a Marine drill instructor refers to recruits as “worthless maggots.”

    Also, Sagan the astronomer probably had in mind primarily those Young Earth Creationists who make up ad hoc explanations about God creating “light trails” from distant stars in order to rescue the 6,000-year-old Universe idea from the onslaughts of empirical data. But again, you can generalize from Sagan’s words to describe a fundamentalist as someone of whatever religion or non-religious worldview who is zealously protective of his little cosmology, and is resentful of any suggestion that reality is bigger and more complicated than his cosmology / theology / philosophy describes.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    By the way, I’m familiar with the historic definition of “fundamentalist” as self-applied and recommended by various Protestant thinkers, but I’m talking about the modern colloquial definition(s) of the term.

  • Richard Willmer

    Very interesting. I too was working with a ‘colloquial’ definition.

    When it comes to how ‘fundamentalism’ often manifests itself, my thinking would probably coincide with Warraq’s and Sagan’s. In practice, people with a ‘fundamentalist mindset’ often think that there are simple, neat answers to the complex problems of ‘real life’, and that only their ‘answers’ will do. Of course ‘non-religious’ people can also adopt that mindset, and many do.

    The point of my comment was really to draw a distinction between ‘evangelical’ and ‘fundamentalist’ in relation to Christianity.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Throbert McGee# ~ Mar 28, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Well said.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    My prayer is that Evangelicals and Fundamentalists will be given more support in their skepticism of people like Bahati, Lively and Fischer. Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, because of several generations of “anti-intellectual” indoctrination are ripe for the simplistic exploitation and manipulation of such men.

    I share this prayer.

    And I share your frustration with anti-intellectual indoctrination. Surely that isn’t what God wills for his children.

  • David Blakeslee

    Timothy,

    Thanks for checking in here…I wish so many Christians weren’t crippled but such restrictive training.

    Catholics, Latter-day Saints, and Jews have an aggressive curiosity about things, and the Universities to support them.

    Throbert,

    Now, I think that Sagan was being “unfair” and hyperbolic when he wrote that “hardly any major religion” has taken positive inspiration from science.

    I don’t think the small universe argument can be made. Catholics figured it out after a few ex-communications, that it was best be facilitate learning. Recall, they incorporated Greek and Roman ideas in their church practices. See art: Raphael’s “School of Athens” painted opposite the Ressurected Christ (wrong title), in the pope’s study in the Vatican.

    There are other arguments to include the development of Universities in Europe by the Catholics, and the Christian practice of exploring nature in the late 1600′s and 1700′s as a way to more deeply appreciate and worship God.

    The modern crisis between science and religion came with the theory of Evolution, and it implications not only for Bibilical truth; but, perhaps even more important implications of how a philosophy of “survival of the fittest” would effect our civilization.

  • Jayhuck

    David,

    The modern crisis between science and religion came with the theory of Evolution, and it implications not only for Bibilical truth; but, perhaps even more important implications of how a philosophy of “survival of the fittest” would effect our civilization.

    Modern perhaps, but not the earliest crisis. You do understand what happened to Galileo?

  • Jayhuck

    The modern crisis between science and religion came with the theory of Evolution, and it implications not only for Bibilical truth; but, perhaps even more important implications of how a philosophy of “survival of the fittest” would effect our civilization.

    To be fair, it was a Roman Catholic that defended the Theory of Evolution in the Dover, Pennsylvania trials. I think Romans, at least various sects of RCs have always had an interest in honest education. Some of our best universities were founded by them :)

  • David Blakeslee

    Jayhuck,

    Yeah, I get the whole Galileo thing (wrong, bad, coercive).

    But there is a lot more evidence to support their commitment to liberal arts education and the sciences which is not part of the popular conversation.

    Again, a myopic understanding of the intersection of faith and science, by referring to one event as “typical” rather than holding onto the preponderance of the evidence.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    I don’t think the small universe argument can be made. Catholics figured it out after a few ex-communications, that it was best be facilitate learning. Recall, they incorporated Greek and Roman ideas in their church practices.

    Indeed, that was part of the Church’s beef with Galileo — it wasn’t that his claimed discoveries were necessarily at odds with Scripture, but in some cases the problem was that Galileo was contradicting Aristotle! (Or at least, 17th-century understandings of Aristotle.)

    For example, the observation that our Moon is “blemished” with craters and mountains, and that Jupiter had moons of its own, offended many of Galileo’s contemporaries because they upset ideas about “celestial perfection and harmony” that were developed and promoted by Aristotelian philosophers, although there’s nothing in Scripture which says that the Moon can’t have mountains and valleys.

    So the Church’s willingness to endorse some ideas of ancient pagan scholars did not in itself prevent these assimilated ideas from ossifying into “Christian dogma.”

    And if — as Galileo charged — many supposedly scientific Jesuits of his day refused to even look through his telescope to see Jupiter’s moons for themselves, because they were loath to let go of the received Aristotelian wisdom that the number of moving heavenly bodies is exactly Seven (and need must be Seven because that’s a harmonious and auspicious number, etc.), then in some sense those Jesuits were afflicted with that “my god is little and I want him to stay little” syndrome described by Sagan.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    P.S. The five planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all visible with the naked eye — so if you throw in the Moon and the Sun, which of course both orbit around a fixed Earth that is the center of the cosmos, you get “seven heavenly bodies”. Just as God ordained seven days in the week, and just as there are seven “holes” in the human head, and just as there are seven deadly sins and seven cardinal virtues, etc. — what sublime perfection!!!

    Thus, adding the four moons that Galileo claimed to have seen around Jupiter would’ve brought the total to an unaesthetic eleven.

  • David Blakeslee

    Throbert,

    A veritable smorgasbord of factoids…

    1 is still the loneliest number :).

    Thanks for filling out this context…again, I wish fundamentalists and more evangelicals could reconcile their faith and their science.

    For too long, I needed to believe that the earth was less than 10,000 years old. Fundamentalism’s need for literal interpretation starts all sorts of problems, and ultimately leads, in the wrong hands, to the perversion of Christ, by creating a triumphant or supremacist world view…

    This process intertwines with Hagee, Lively and Fisher. Their intellect and position, misused, guides many sincere followers of Christ.

  • Jayhuck

    David B -

    There is a book that might help some titled “Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientists Search For Common Ground Between God and Evolution” by Kenneth Miller. Miller is a Christian and was a witness at the Dover Intelligent Design trial. :)

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    David — since I brought up Carl Sagan, did you ever read his novel Contact?

    Regardless of Sagan’s personal worldview (I think he generally called himself an agnostic and may have been for the most part an atheist), the novel speculates about Deism and ultimately seems to affirm the idea of a mysterious but real Creative Intelligence behind the Universe — although this is almost totally omitted in the film adaptation.

    The most striking endorsement of Deism in the novel comes in a conversation between the confidently atheistic astronomer Eleanor Arroway and the extraterrestrials that she finally meets towards the end of the book. The aliens are from a civilization millions of years older than ours — they had figured out nuclear fission while Lucy the Australopithecus was still strolling along the plains of Africa, and their technology is so incredibly advanced that they think it’s a mundane engineering project to move stars around… yet they still debate the question of whether the Universe was deliberately made by Someone.

    Actually, the super-advanced aliens pretty much agree that Someone created the Universe, but the nature and ultimate purposes of that Someone remain elusive and up for debate. But at any rate, it’s an eye-opener for the atheist heroine that these near-godlike extraterrestrials, with their immeasurably superior scientific knowledge, still “believe in God” more than she does.

    (Again, though, none of this was carried over into the screen version.)

  • David Blakeslee

    Throbert,

    You didn’t bring up Matthew McConaughy…

    Smiling.

    Ok…In my evangelical science circles we talk about creating a God of the Gaps, what science doesn’t know, we quickly ascribe to God powers to explain.

    Why is someone gay?

    Sin nature, fallen, broken…their parents sinned.

    It shuts down curiosity fairly quickly, or directs it in a very narrow way.

    Jonathan Edwards, the New England preacher who played a significant role in the Great Awakening, regularly studied nature to deepen his reverence of God. He saw it as an act of worship.

  • David Blakeslee

    Jayhuck,

    I have not read it…but have written down the title and will add it to the stack.

    On a practical level, exploring scientific answers has little practical value for those who study them, they largely leave their world unchanged in their generation, especially as science looks at smaller and smaller questions. Its benefits trickle out to the masses who are either unaware or only remotely interested. Most of us appreciate science for the comforts and entertainment it helps provide.

    Religion is remarkable in that it has a dramatic effect on the individual who practices it…it has broad application and relevance to the individual’s life creating a structure for meaning, for community, for personal growth and for compassionate expression. That power also makes it a social force.

    Only saw Sagan’s movie, which I greatly enjoyed.

  • Jayhuck

    David B -

    The book has recently been added to my stack as well. It has received good reviews and it is aimed primarily at the religious person who is struggling how to merge ideas regarding evolution with their faith beliefs.

    Religion is remarkable in that it has a dramatic effect on the individual who practices it…it has broad application and relevance to the individual’s life creating a structure for meaning, for community, for personal growth and for compassionate expression. That power also makes it a social force.

    It has definitely been both a good and a bad social force.

  • David Blakeslee

    In the hands of Lively, Bahati and Hagee…a cause for concern.

  • Jayhuck

    Yes :)

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Throbert,

    You didn’t bring up Matthew McConaughy…

    Well, arguably, Matthew McConaughey’s handsomeness is scientific proof that God exists and He delighteth in the joyous swooning of homosexual men! ;-)

    But on a more serious note, you’re right that McConaughey’s “non-denominational but apparently some flavor of Judeo-Christian” preacher did serve as a dramatic foil both to the strict atheism of the Jodie Foster character and to the violent fundamentalism of Gary Jake Busey’s “Christian mujahideen” (who blows up the first Space-Warp Machine along with himself and numerous innocents).

    However, in the novel, the incredibly advanced E-T’s provide empiric evidence that strictly naturalistic or “materialist” atheism is incorrect, and that there probably was an Intelligent Creator who had some sort of intended purpose for the Universe. (But the E-T’s decline to endorse any particular model of the Creator, which is why I describe them as Deists, although Sagan doesn’t actually use that term.)

    So in the novel, “Jodie F.” ends up shifting a little towards the worldview of “Matthew M,” at least insofar as she finally accepts that there is definitely some point to all of this, though without embracing any particular religion.

    By the way, the idea that increasing scientific knowledge doesn’t “kill God off,” but merely “kills” certain preconceived notions about God, was explored more humorously by Douglas Adams — like Sagan’s Contact, the Hitchhiker’s Guide novels posit extraterrestrial beings who are so technologically and evolutionarily advanced that they have attained godlike powers and can custom-build planets, yet they still ponder over the question “Why are we here…?

  • ken

    “So in the novel, “Jodie F.” ends up shifting a little towards the worldview of “Matthew M,” at least insofar as she finally accepts that there is definitely some point to all of this, though without embracing any particular religion.”

    She does so in the movie as well. Not believing in a supreme being, but, without proof, in the existence of beings greater than herself (the aliens). This change in her beliefs was brought out during the congressional hearings at the end of the movie.

    although, this has little bearing on the situation in uganda, unless you want to compare bhahti and his ilk to the Jake Busey character (Joseph). which I don’t think applies. Joseph was a fanatic who truly believed in his cause, so much so he gave up his life for it. Bahti may hate gays, but I’m pretty sure he knows his bill doesn’t have anything to do with protecting children. further, I’m also pretty sure if you offered bahti the option of ridding uganda of gays forever, but it would cost him his life, he’d refuse.

  • David Blakeslee

    Aren’t you leaving out the “Fundamentalist Advisor” to the president?

    I loved the story…but the fragmented visions of religious practice and its influence on politics and public life was odd.

    Matthew had a lot to carry in one character…easier to set up a scene at a church with parishioners discussing all of this…more realistic, more human.

    But the points are well taken.

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