The Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Rumors of amendment have been greatly exaggerated

Canyon Ridge Christian Church pastor Kevin Odor told his congregation earlier this month that one reason they continue to support Martin Ssempa is so they can have an influence on his work. Since March when they met with Ssempa, he has gone a little quieter. He did meet with Muslims to rally support in May and in late March, he called Molotov Mitchell to complain that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was being misrepresented. Mitchell then did a video which claimed to accurately describe the bill. That video is up on the WorldNetDaily video site but appears to have been removed from the initial March 31 WND post. (Check that, it is now back up)

This comes up because yesterday Rob Tisinai (ht BTB) described a Facebook conversation with Molotov Mitchell where Mitchell is still claiming that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is being misrepresented. Mitchell said this in his March video about the AHB:

A deliberate disinfo campaign has convinced tons of people that Ugandans want nothing short of gay genocide.  I decided to look deeper.  This isn’t my opinion, this isn’t Rick Warren’s opinion, this isn’t even MSNBC’s monolithic gay opinion.  This is what’s in the bill.  Uganda’s anti-gay bill formally extends the death penalty to homosexuals who commit pre-existing capital crimes.  They are as follows:

#1 — Pedophilia or sexual abuse of the handicapped.

#2 — Knowing that you are HIV+ yet continuing to spread it to others, and

#3 –  Using positions of authority to coerce others into performing sexual acts.

That is it.  That’s as far as the “genocide” goes.

Anyone who has read the bill knows that those #1 and #3 are in there, but #2 is distored by Mitchell because the bill does not require knowledge of HIV status, let alone intent to spread it. That distinction in #2 is pretty important and Mitchell leaves out the reference to “repeat offenders” of other offenses of the bill which could be just about anyone. Failure to report homosexual behavior more than once could be construed as a repeat offense as defined by the bill. He completely ignores the life in prison for homosexual behavior aspect, and the extradition for gay behavior elsewhere, and the fines or jail terms for failure to report. If death is not involved, it must be a-ok with Martin Ssempa’s friend, Mitchell.

So Tisinai tells Mitchell that he is distorting the bill and Mitchell says:

Sorry Rob, but you’ve got shady info. There are multiple versions of the bill, even one that has no death penalty at all. The version I was discussing was the same one Pastor Ssempa was (and is?) supporting. The Left Wing is touting early versions and even fake versions of the bill, but they’re wrong. No bill calling for the execution of straight people will be presented or passed.

The problem here is, as Tisinai points out, is that Mitchell in his video claimed that he was not telling us opinions about the bill, but what was actually in it. But which bill? Mitchell says there are several versions; he says Ssempa has a version. He acknowledged he has not actually seen this bill but going on what he has heard. By this logic, there could be as many versions as there are people in Kampala.

Mitchell could be referring to the same recommendations that Martin Ssempa gave to Canyon Ridge Christian Church from the Uganda Joint Christian Council. I have that here but those recommendations do not constitute a new version of the bill. If me and a few of my professor friends here at GCC made up some recommendations to Congress about the health care bill, would I have been justified in telling people in Uganda that our recommendations constituted another version of the health care bill?

Are there different versions of the bill? Perhaps there are some proposals floating around but the official version is still the one published by the Uganda Gazette in September, 2009. To make sure, several days ago I went to the source, Uganda’s Parliament, to find out if any amendments had been read. Charles Tuhaise is a researcher for the Parliamentary Research Service and the President of the National Association of Social Workers – Uganda. I asked him if the rumors of amendments were true. He replied:

To the best of my knowledge, these rumours are unfounded. There are many Bills pending in committee and it is not clear when each of the pending bills will be tackled. Committees have no mandate to amend a Bill, but to present their proposals to the House in a report read by the Committee Chair.

In case it is unclear, by “many Bills” Mr. Tuhaise is referring to many bills on multiple subjects, not many versions of the AHB. When the AHB was first read in October, the bill was assigned to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Committee on Presidential Affairs. There was some debate on the matter but the Speaker asked the CLPA to take the lead with help from the CPA. According to Charles Tuhaise, the bill is still before those committees and cannot be amended without consent of Parliament. The role of the committee is to make recommendations but those come in the form of a report to Parliament.

It would really aid the conversation between all parties, supporters, opponents and undecided, if supporters would simply post the bill and discuss what is current. Martin Ssempa said he would do that on March 11 in a radio show with Michael Brown. Instead, he called Molotov Mitchell sometime afterwards and complained that people were distorting the bill. And from what Mitchell said, he didn’t see a copy of it before he told the world what was in it.

This really is pretty simple. Everybody, supporter and oppponents, post the Uganda Gazette copy (wait, opponents have already done that). We discuss what it says. Then if people want to discuss what they think should be in it, then we could call those proposals.