Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Africa LGBTIQ, Queer Politics, Uganda

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill Back in Parliament: Still doubts on the Death Penalty

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill which was first introduced in 2009 and included the death penality has been tabled for debate in the 2012 parliamentary session. The Bill which did not get a reading in last years session is carried over. The Bill is being read in it’s original form  and it is unclear whether it will  include the death penalty [Section 3] . Melanie Nathan who has been in contact with the Bill’s promoter, David Bahati interviewed him about the Bill and he claimed it would be “more moderate” implying that the death penalty will be dropped.  He insisted the reasons behind the bill was to protect children of Uganda but when questioned about consenting adults responded “they were doing the wrong thing”.  He reiterated the usual rhetoric that the west was exporting homosexuality and Uganda would not be blackmailed by the West.

I called David Bahati last night before this morning’s meetings and the Ugandan member of parliament who authored the Kill the Gays Bill told me today that the Bill is being introduced and read in its original form. He said the committee changes made will be incorporated later. He confirmed that the Bill is being decided by the committee as to when it will come to the House floor.

I asked about the death penalty and he told me that the Bill will be first introduced in its original form. What happens after that, he said, “would please you people as it would be more moderate.” Yet he could not confirm what would be changed.

He told me that the most important thing is that once the Bill passes there can be no more “promotion of that behavior” in Uganda. That the government will clamp down on organizations and NGO’s which promote homosexuality.

He said, “but don’t worry the bill will not be harmful to you people; and it will protect the children of Uganda. “ We cannot mess up the future of our children.”

He told me that Ugandans will not be blackmailed by the West. He said that the West is bringing the idea of homosexuality to Ugandan and telling Africans what to do about homosexuality and that he said is “Imperialism; we will not be blackmailed by your few dollars.”

I asked Bahati about tourism, “are you concerned people will stop visiting Uganda if you pass the Bill?” He said, “no Uganda has been voted the best destination in Africa last year. I am not worried about that.”

He told me that the purpose of the Anti-homosexuality Bill is to “protect our children from promotion of that behavior.” I then asked what about consenting adult in private. He said that is outlawed “because they are doing the wrong thing.”

I asked him to explain how that fell into the reasoning of promotion and he was unable to answer, instead changing back to the same repetitive rhetoric: “We cannot debate the freedom of our country to make laws to protect our children.”

I asked Bahati to name me one case of harm caused to children by homosexuality. He could not answer me. I cited the Xmas deaths of 14 women in childbirth asking if that surely is harm and he said “we are dealing with those problems.” I was answered with the same rhetoric.

When questioned about the process, Bahati was vague and seemed to want to avert attention from the Bill at this time.

Given the timeline for the Bill it is hard to see how it will not be passed this time round however Ugandan activists have already begun a campaign to stop this Bill from passing. Please sign the petition here.

The Nigerian Same Sex Marriage Bill has yet to be passed by the Lower House and of course the President needs to sign the Bill.   The government has no doubt been distracted by the Fuel Subsidy protests and ongoing media and civil society focus on corruption particularly in the oil cabal.   From their point of view this would be an excellent time to return to the Bill and I am sure the tabling of the Ugandan Bill will not go unnoticed.