Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: An Update

There are several new items regarding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill that I want to summarize as the week closes. After a lengthy campaign at, Barclays bank issued a statement indicating that they are quietly lobbying the Ugandan government regarding the bill. Here is the brief statement:

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill Statement

M2 Communications

“Barclays has a strong history of supporting all aspects of diversity, both in the workplace and in wider society. Equally, we are proud of playing our part in the development of economies across Africa, and the key role Barclays plays in the lives of millions of our African customers. “Barclays is aware of the proposed legislation relating to homosexuality in Uganda and we are engaging at appropriate levels of the Ugandan Government to express our views.”

I have seen nothing from Citibank. The campaign has over 500,000 signatures at this point.

According to this AP article, David Bahati continues to keep his bill in the news.  Even though Parliament is stalled over oil and internal strife, Bahati is talking up what he claims are changes in the bill. After claims in May, 2011 about the removal of the death penalty were proven false, I won’t believe his current claims until I can check them with an official report. However, if the bill is amended by Parliament in accord with the AP article, the focus of the bill may shift slightly. According to Bahati, counseling for gays has been added. If this is true and is made to serve as an alternative to jail, then Scott Lively will likely take some credit for it. He has been promoting what amounts to coerced ex-gay counseling for gays since March, 2009. Despite the fact that even NARTH has condemned that proposal, Lively (lately joined by Bryan Fischer) continues to promote this idea. The AP article carried an encouraging sign. Apparently, at least one MP on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee was willing to speak up for personal freedom:

One of the members, Krispus Ayena, said Friday that some parliamentarians spoke strongly against certain provisions in the bill as well as the death penalty itself. “There was a dissenting voice in the committee,” Ayena said. “They argued very forcefully that we should not do a thing like that: to regulate what goes on in bedrooms. First of all, is it practicable to regulate that? And there are those who say this is very oppressive.”

While MPs who think like this may not stop the bill, one hopes that behind the scenes there are those who are making attempts to keep the bill from the floor. Because of the recess called by the Speaker and the need to debate the oil bills, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill may not be considered before the December 15 Christmas break.

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  • Richard Willmer

    Very interesting – thank you, Warren.

    Good to see comments like those of Hon Krispus Ayena. I’m sure there are those outside the committee who share similar concerns.

    Personally, I don’t believe a word that Bahati says regarding ‘amendments’ to the Bill; we should probably just ‘wait and see’ now – assuming the Bill ever sees the light of day. Isn’t it funny that, whenever the bill is about to make it to the floor, ‘something’ happens?! This time it was ‘pub brawl’ (but not in a pub on this occasion), in which Dodgy Dave himself was apparently involved:

    There is a body of opinion that says, “now is the time to get this resolved one way or another.” Fortunately, things like the Bahati Bill are difficult to enforce (evidence is usually the problem – made more difficult still in the case of consensual relations by the false dichotomy of ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ set out in the Bill); anyway, passage through the ‘car cash’ parliament would not by itself make the Bill into a law. Nevertheless, I tend to share Warren’s view that ‘delay and depletion’ is the optimal outcome.

    Interestingly, Barclays are using a (black) gay couple in one of their latest advertisements here in the UK! The couple looks very happy! I wish them “all the very best” in their life together!

    Back to Hon Ayena. He’s absolutely right about both privacy and enforceability. And it is deeply ironic that one sometimes hears, from within Ugandan ‘political circles’, that certain ANTI-GAY MPs might possibly have some things in their own lives that they themselves would prefer were ‘kept private’. I’m talking of ‘side dishes’ – of course!

  • Richard Willmer
  • Richard Willmer

    Interesting article:

    I would still say that Bahati simply cannot be trusted. He and his ilk are PROVEN LIARS. Anyway, the ‘formal’ death penalty is not the issue: it essentially makes not a dime of difference whether or not it is there.

  • I am inclined to sit back and wait for the next move. The speculation is well and good but until the bill is actually debated and passed, this gay man is sick and tired of talking about it. That’s exactly the reason why I feel the bill should be passed – then we deal with that reality. This business of postponing it, running out the time on it, pushing it to the sidelines by the president will not make it go away. Either Parliament drops the bill totally or they should pass it and then we take it on in court.

  • Richard Willmer

    Indeed, ‘Ssebaspace’: that is one school of thought, and I entirely understand the rationale behind it.

    The other ‘school’ is what I would term the ‘grind it down to nothing’ approach. This would take time, and keep the discussion going (which is, I appreciate, perhaps a ‘mixed blessing’ for those who would be most affected by Bahati’s evil designs).

    Whatever happens over the next few weeks, we must work for a long term solution. Fortunately, one keeps hearing from various quarters that ordinary Ugandans are becoming less and less interested in this vicious and stupid bill. It really is the work of a relatively small clique of extremists who are backed by Americans who are frustrated because they are losing the ‘culture war’ in their own country.

  • With gas prices running at a crippling $8.00 a gallon, reports of stolen Aid money reaching epic proportions, health provision all but abandoned, administrative incompetence mother’s milk to the country, education offering a sick joke, a tired and creaking government staying in office for grim death, Ugandans have no interest in this bill. But those who are interested in it sit in high offices. We have to shut them up once and for all – preferably by the bill being permanently dropped but, the most likely outcome, by the bill being passed and then we challenge it in constitutional court.

  • Richard Willmer

    It is certainly my view that Miss Kadaga’s infantile obsession with the Bill probably helped to cause her to ‘take her eye off the ball’ regarding the oil bills, which actually DO matter, as getting the appropriate regulatory structure for the UG oil industry is very important.

    By contrast, as long as it still around, the Bahati Bill is simply a ‘lose-lose’ deal for UG. (For those of us outside UG who campaign for LGBT rights, the existence/continuance of the Bill is a ‘win-win’ – it’s fabulous from a publicity point of view: an all purpose weapon against ‘homophobes disunited’. But we should be concerned about UG’s well being first and foremost, of course.)

  • Richard Willmer

    When Bahati unveiled his practically unenforceable ‘Kill-the-Gays’ Bill in October 2009, he ‘opened fire’ … on his own foot! (Smarter anti-gay activists, like Solomon Mmale, understand this.) Now, apparently, he’s reduced to ‘brawling’ in parliament.

  • I beg to disagree about the continuance being a win/win. It’s a win for the Ssempas who stand to make lots of money from the religious groups in America who fund them. And, dare one say it, I can see how some people on our side take advantage of its existence. It’s thus a win for those who use it for dishonest purposes.

    No, It is time to seek closure on it one way or the other. My preferred way is for Parliament to pass the bill then it goes to Constitutional Court for its legality to be established once and for all.

  • Richard Willmer

    It certainly isn’t for you – I would never suggest that it was. And it is for this reason that I too wish to see it ‘junked’, one way or another, as soon as possible.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ ‘Sebaspace’

    BTW, I assume that you meant “its ILlegality to be established once and for all.”

    (Not sure how Ssempa ‘wins’ from the Bill’s continuance; being a ‘Ssempa donor’ is not exactly a ‘badge of honour’ just now! It might be rather better for him if ‘donors’ felt more inclined to bankroll him – which they probably would with no bill around. Just a thought.)

  • Richard Willmer

    Germany suspends direct budgetary support to the UG Government and Parliament, citing (unlike Denmark, Ireland, Norway and the UK) the Bahati Bill as one of their concerns:

    (It’s interesting what’s happened with the UK ‘suspension’: it was originally a sum equal to the grant to the Office of the Prime Minister, but was then, two weeks later and without any public explanation, suddenly increased to include all grants to all political bodies. I do very much hope that the money will be used to help Ugandans via other conduits, and not just cut from the overall spend.)

  • Richard Willmer

    Frank Mugisha, human rights defender, speak out on the (still) ‘Kill-the-Gays’ Bill:

    (I’ve actually met Frank in person: IMHO a very nice guy … very personable, thoughtful and sensible – a credit to his country.)