David Bahati: Hearings took place today on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Today, public hearings on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill took place before the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee, according to the bill author, David Bahati. In an interview, Bahati said that the Uganda Law Reform Commission and several religious leaders were on the list of those slated to provide testimony. He added, “I know that the process of legislation is moving forward.”

Bahati declined to say that the bill would be voted on next week, saying that the actual end of Parliament is not until May 18 when the 9th Parliament also begins. According to Charles Tuhaise, a researcher for parliament’s research office, most of the business will be concluded by the end of next week. He told me that the hearings for the Marriage and Divorce Bill have concluded and those for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill began today. In addition to the Law Reform Commission, those providing testimony today included the Attorney General’s Office, Martin Ssempa and Stephen Langa’s Family Life Network.  Tuhaise said the antigay bill hearings will probably conclude on Monday with the NGO Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law being one group on the agenda.

The fate of the antigay measure has been uncertain since it was introduced on October 14, 2009. From the beginning, the bill had support from the public as well as from religious and political leaders. However, legislative progress on the bill was slowed by massive international opposition. Contrary to false reports that the bill had been shelved, it has remained before a Ugandan parliamentary committee. In December, 2010, committee chair Stephen Tashobya told me that he hoped to move the Anti-Homosexuality Bill through his committee in time for a vote before the end of Parliament. Tashobya also said that the hearings would precede a vote.

Bahati also told me that a resolution he offered to call for common ground between the government and opposition leaders was adopted by Parliament during today’s session. The bipartisan resolution was offered in the wake of protests over inflation and the violent response from the government.

See also: Hearings may be taking place.

And then there is this just out on NTV. Sounds like Tashobya is pushing to get it a vote.

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  • Michael

    This is an example of the grave public health risks posed by the immoral anti-gay agenda. We can thank radical anti-gay activists from the US, pretending to be “evangelists,” for igniting this sinful bill. When gay people are being murdered in Uganda, we hope the US government will stop all aid to a nation which deliberately puts the health and well-being of its citizens behind its pride and sin of homophobia.

  • Maazi NCO

    We have prepared for the worst case scenario, but hope for the best case scenario. The prognosis for both scenarios are very good. The differences between the two scenarios is a new parliament and the passage of time.

  • Richard Willmer

    M7 has a clear choice: good relations with ‘the West’, or snuggling up to a bunch of bahitlerite lunatics.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Warren – Well done on your vigilence and speed, by the way. Several reports have now started to appear, but we go into the weekend with quite a few people already briefed. (Let us not forget what happened when Odinga was ‘challenged’ so quickly – the retraction was drafted and sent to EU embassies almost within 24 hours [so I’ve heard!], although it wasn’t actually published until four days after his comments.)

  • Maazi NCO

    Let us not forget what happened when Odinga was ‘challenged’ so quickly – the retraction was drafted and sent to EU embassies almost within 24 hours

    Odinga is a joke and Western lick-spittle. I doubt there is any African leader who is as obsequious as he is.

  • Richard Willmer

    And he could soon be the President of Kenya (as you gleefully pointed out when he made his ill-judged remarks last October) – lick-spittle or not.

    The Bahati Bill is really self-defeating posturing. But Bahati is determined to ‘save face’, despite the fact that what he proposes would do no good at all for Uganda, and probably a good deal of harm. He’s clearly very ‘power-hungry’, and is more interested in his own career than in what constitutes the true wellbeing of Uganda, when all relevant factors are taken into consideration.

    May I remind you that you yourself have made, on another blog, a comment suggesting that those who have consensual relations in private might be ‘left alone’. Such a comment could of course be deemed illegal if the Bahati Bill as currently drafted were enacted, even without the death penalty.

  • Richard Willmer

    For the record, this is what you said in December 2009:

    “Contrary to Western media propaganda, Gays who keep their heads down and do their stuff privately will be left alone …”

  • Richard Willmer

    Sorry, should have cited my source (it’s not a good idea to accusations without credible evidence, is it?!): http://ncronline.org/news/hope-houston-extremes-uganda

  • Maazi NCO

    For the record, this is what you said in December 2009:

    “Contrary to Western media propaganda, Gays who keep their heads down and do their stuff privately will be left alone …”

    Yes, I admit that I said so and I have not changed my opinion since then. Having said that, may I remind you that in the same National Catholic Reporter, I made the following comments as well:

    It is highly unlikely that Uganda parliament will pass a law that includes death penalty and the laughable “extradition of gays from foreign nations”. But be rest assured, the law (in revised form) will be passed so as to protect Ugandan cultural values.

    The above comment indicates that I am committed to having a watered down version of the anti-gay law in our nation’s stature books.

  • Richard Willmer

    So you are effectively in favour of decriminalising private consensual sexual acts, as long as people don’t make a big ‘public fuss’ about what they do? Yes?

    What about about heterosexuals? Should men (or indeed women) bragging publically about their sexual exploits be subject to criminal penalties?

  • Richard Willmer

    But, ‘Maazi’, I have to admit that find your comments puzzling and indeed contradictory. If something is deemed to be a crime, then it should make no difference whether it is done ‘in secret’ or not. You can’t have it both ways (and indeed Bahati is very clear about his position: he wants to ‘sniff out’ gays – although it unlikely that the UG police will be up to the task that B. wants them to perform, given tight public finances and an exploding population … though maybe B. thought of that, and is trying to ‘recruit’ informers from the general public by threatening people with jail if they don’t inform).

    Nevertheless, the probable deficiencies of the UG police notwithstanding, the mere enacting of the Bill (or anything resembling it) will be seen as an ‘act of war’ by many. Maybe the revised Bill you want should indeed embrace your stated idea that ‘consenting adults in private’ should be ‘left alone’. Then there’s perhaps a greater chance that more real criminals will be dealt with for the good of UG society generally.

  • Wendy Leigh

    There is no comparison between Saudi Arabia and Uganda except perhaps, Idi Amin and, he’s dead. I think similar could be arranged for those who seek to replicate his rule.

  • Richard Willmer

    Indeed, Wendy, the comparison is defective for two reasons:-

    1. Uganda is contemplating new discriminatory laws; Saudi Arabia is not.

    2. Uganda receives aid from the US and EU; Saudi Arabia does not.

    Also: the Bahati Bill, as drafted, has some uniquely savage and totalitarian features (let us not forget that combining the Clause about informing with the notion of a ‘serial offender’ could, at least in theory, lead to death by hanging for repeat ‘non-informers’).

    But I’m still interested to hear ‘Maazi’s’ explanation regarding his apparently conflicting statements.

  • Richard Willmer


    I am genuinely interested to hear you explanation regarding these two statements of yours:-

    1. “Contrary to Western media propaganda, Gays who keep their heads down and do their stuff privately will be left alone …”


    2. “… be rest assured [sic], the law (in revised form) will be passed so as to protect Ugandan cultural values.”

    They are surely inconsistent.

    Furthermore, you clearly hold significantly different views to Bahati, so shouldn’t you be profoundly grateful for the pressure that stopped the Bill being passed back in its original (and, as I type, current) form in late 2009? (It was said by many at the time that its passage was extremely likely, but for the international outcry that led M7 to abandon it.)

  • David Blakeslee

    I am not sure this is the best place to post this…but I’ll start here:

    Although, there is no clear-cut verse in Qur’an that categorically suggests killing of homosexuals, sayings of Prophet Muhammad suggests three types of sentences, and among that one is death. Bilal Philips is suggesting, based on his opinion on the Qur’anic/Prophetic principles of society. He is not advising the Islamic judiciary to kill any gay person they found, but what he is “suggesting” is judicial punishment of death sentence for those who confess or are seen “performing homosexual acts” by “four reliable witnesses without any doubt.”

    The essence of Islamic laws is to protect the life of human beings. And it happens that sometimes killing of a person can save thousands and sometimes millions of lives. The Islamic judiciary can punish a person with death sentence to save others’ lives.

    I think this is a quote from a prominent Muslim in Canada.

    I found it here, in an interesting article criticizing a public school for facilitating Muslim prayers on Fridays which forbid “unclean” adolescent girls from participating.