Bahati says law is silent about defilement of boys; 2007 law says otherwise

There seems to be confusion among Uganda parliamentarians about what their law says regarding defilement of children.

Speaking about the perceived need for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, David Bahati is quoted in the Independent as saying the following:

Trying to justify the necessity of passing the bill into law he added, “In the Defilement Act 2009, the law says that if someone (man) defiles a minor (girl child), the maximum punishment is death, but if a man defiles a boy, the law is silent about it.”

I can find no mention of a “Defilement Act 2009” on the website of the Ugandan Parliament or in any news reports. However, note this 2007 report of a bill passed in Uganda which covers boys and girls.

KAMPALA, 19 April 2007 (PlusNews) – According to a new law passed by Uganda’s parliament on Wednesday, an HIV-positive person who wilfully infects a minor through sexual intercourse will face the death penalty.

According to the new Penal Code Amendment Bill, an individual who is aware of their HIV-positive status and has sex with a child under the age of 14, with or without their consent, is guilty of “aggravated defilement” and, on conviction in the High Court, “liable to suffer death”. The crime of defilement is defined as sex with a person under the age of 14.

Parliament unanimously passed the bill, first tabled in August 2006, but parliamentary spokeswoman Helen Kawesa said it needed presidential assent to become law, which usually takes about 30 days.

The proposed legislation seeks to amend the existing penal code, which has been criticised for being too lenient with HIV-positive people who rape children. Capital punishment has been the penalty for anyone found guilty of rape or defilement since 1996, but has never been implemented.

This article seems to be referring to the passage of the same law referred to here in these April 18 minutes of the Ugandan Parliament.

THE MINISTER OF STATE, JUSTICE (Mr Fred Ruhindi): Madam Speaker, I beg to move that the Bill entitled the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2007 be read for the third time and do pass.

(Question put and agreed to.)

A Bill for an Act entitled “The Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 2007”

There is a lengthy discussion of the bill which references a Parliament committee report making clear that the bill refers to both boys and girls.

2.     Defilement: 

a)   The proposed amendment on section 129 defines a sexual act to involve the offence on either a male and a female child.  The offence of defilement is a felony and an offence punishable by life imprisonment and therefore triable and bailable by Chief Magistrate. 

The amendment intends to punish persons for sexual acts committed against all children – both male and female.

Indeed, as far as I can tell from the Parliament’s minutes, the amendments remained intact and the law covers both male and female children.

To those in the know in Uganda: Which is it? We have been hearing for months from proponents of the bill that the boy child was not covered but this law passed by Parliament appears to include both males and females. The 2007 law is on the books and should be quite sufficient, if I read it corrently, to cover any defilement of minors.

UPDATE: In this document published by the Refugee Law Project, I located the text of the Penal Code Amendment Act.

THE PENAL CODE (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2006 (2007)

An Act to amend the Penal Code Act 

BE IT ENACTED by Parliament as follows:

1. Abolition of corporal punishment

(1) Corporal punishment is abolished and accordingly, all references to corporal punishment in the Penal Code Act in this Act referred to as the principal Act, are repealed.

(2) Without prejudice to the general effect of subsection (1) of this section, Section 125, subsection (2) of section 129 and section 205 of the Penal Code Act, are amended by the repeal of the words “with or without corporal punishment”.

2. Section 129 of the Penal Code Act replaced

The principal Act is amended by substituting for section 129 the following new sections—

Defilement of persons under eighteen years of age

129. (1) Any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen years, commits a felony known as defilement and is on conviction liable to life imprisonment.

(2) Any person who attempts to perform a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen years commits an offence and is on conviction, liable to imprisonment not exceeding eighteen years.

(3) Any person who attempts to perform a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen years in any of the circumstances specified in subsection (4) commits a felony called aggravated defilement and is, on conviction by the High Court, liable to suffer death.

(4) The circumstances referred to in subsection (3) are as follows—

(a) where the person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of fourteen years;

(b) where the offender to his or her knowledge, is infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome(AIDS);

(c) where the offender is a parent or guardian of or a person in authority over, the person against whom the offence is committed; or

(d) where the offender is a serial offender.

(5) Any person who attempts to perform a sexual act with another person below the age of eighteen years in any of the circumstances specified in subsection (4), commits an offence and is liable on conviction, to imprisonment for life.

(6) In this section unless the context otherwise requires—

“serial offender” means a person who has a previous conviction for the offence of defilement or aggravated defilement;

“sexual act” means penetration of the vagina, mouth, or anus, however slight, of any person by a sexual organ or the use of any object or organ by a person on another person’s sexual organ

“sexual organ” includes a vagina or penis.

Makerere University Law School Dean, Sylvia Tamale, refers to these amendments in this analysis of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Sexual crimes against children are already criminalised under Ugandan law. Section 129 of the Ugandan penal code provides that ‘any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of 18 years, commits a felony known as defilement and is on conviction liable to life imprisonment.’24 This section also provides for the offence of ‘aggravated defilement’ punishable by death.[25]

Existing provisions on ‘defilement’ and ‘aggravated defilement’ under the penal code do not differentiate between same-sex and heterosexual sexual abuse. Hence it is not clear what the proposed offence of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ under the Anti-Homosexuality bill aims to achieve.

Not clear, indeed. When David Bahati and Martin Ssempa says that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill aims to extend existing protections to the “boy child,” I can only assume that they are unaware of the Penal Code Amendment Act of 2007. The stated reason for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill disappears when one examines the current law.

More on this:

Other sources refer to The Penal Code Amendment Act of 2007 as being a part of an overall effort to prosecute the growing problem of child sexual molestation in Uganda, the majority of it being girls molested by men. On Page 8 of this United Nations report on violence against women, the Ugandan Section 129 is reproduced as I have it above. And then in this July, 2008 report filed by the Ugandan chapter of the African Network for Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), the Penal Code Amendment Bill is referred to.

Thus in 2007, Parliament passed the Penal Code Amendment Bill and the Magistrates Courts Amendments Bill…The new amendments took effect two months ago and the judiciary is currently transferring case files from the high court to the magistrates’ courts.

Thus, according to this source, the Penal Code Amendment Act took effect at least by the Spring of 2008. I suspect it was in force earlier as indicated by this August 1, 2007 statement by Uganda’s Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi (“recently we passed the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill. I believe that by now that Bill may already be assented to.”), although awareness of the law might not have been great. Thus, complaints that current Ugandan law does not cover abuser of “the boy child” seem to be incorrect.

Year in review: Top Ten Stories from 2007

Since it was so much fun last year, I decided to compile a top ten list of stories of the year on the blog. Since I am the only voter, the list is subjective and regular readers might arrange them differently or think I should have included another story over one of these. The stories are arranged in the order of the interest they seemed to create here on the blog and elsewhere.

1. APA Task Force on sexual orientation – I first reported here that the APA had convened a task force to review APA policy regarding therapeutic responses to sexual orientation. Initial information released from the APA noted that gay advocacy groups sought assistance from the APA in order to negatively evaluate efforts to change sexual orientation. The charge also involves therapeutic responses to individuals who wish to alter behavioral expression of their sexuality. The issue was the subject of a CNN segment involving yours truly, an Associated Press article and was the subject of several posts on the blog. A large coalition of religious groups and interested individuals wrote the APA regarding the religious aspects of the committee’s charge. Efforts to further regulate orientation change efforts spilled over to other professions, notably, the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The APA Task Force will likely be featured as a top story again since the report is expected to be released sometime in 2008.

2. The sexual identity therapy framework – The SIT framework was the subject of national news stories and identified by Stephanie Simon of the LA Times as an important component of changes in therapy for those in conflict over sexual identity. I did numerous posts on the framework in an attempt to distinguish it from other approaches. Mark Yarhouse and I presented aspects of the framework at the American Psychological Association convention, the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference and other local conferences. A revision of the framework and several high level presentations are slated for 2008. 

3. The release of the Exodus outcomes study by Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse – After months of speculation, Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse released the results of their longitudinal study of Exodus International participants at the AACC conference in September.  Although the study garnered little national media attention, many blogs, (including this one), and the gay and religiously based news services thoroughly covered the study. With additional data to be collected and reported, this story will most likely reappear in 2008.   

4. Donnie Davies – For a short time in January and February, blogosphere was captivated by the “Rev. Davies” and the “The Bible Says” music video. In a kind of “Where’s Waldo” cyber hunt, numerous bloggers were eager to crack the case and learn find out who Donnie Davies was, where was he hiding, and to learn if his act for real. I did 11 posts on the subject and became acquaited via email with Joey Oglesby, the actor behind the spoof. We even wondered if Mr. Oglesby and Rev. Davies were twins separated at birth because of their uncanny resemblance. Will Donnie do an anniversary reunion tour in January? Stay tuned.

5. The Cameron Eastern Psychological Association presentation – In March, Paul and Kirk Cameron released a series of news spots claiming that data from Canada, Norway and Denmark supported their contention that gays die between 20-30 younger than straights. In reviewing their study, first presented as a poster session at the Eastern Psychological Association annual meeting, I disputed key assumptions underlying their claims. In addition, Danish epidemiologist, Morten Frisch reviewed the study here on the blog finding it inadequate. Paul and Kirk Cameron provided rebuttals to criticisms and a nine-part series resulted.

6. New Warriors Training Adventure and the Mankind Project – A post regarding the suicide of Michael Scinto in an October issue of the Houston Press led to a series of posts about the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. I received numerous emails from men who attest to benefit and those who believe NWTA was harmful and coercive. One irony about NWTA is that public proponents of reparative therapy and gay affirmative therapy both recommend NWTA to clients to enhance masculinity. Reparative therapists believe NWTA may lead to reduced same-sex attraction and gay therapists believe NWTA can enhance security in a gay identity. I remain curious about the mechanisms inherent in NWTA and other such programs to effect either benefit or harm. With the Scinto trial schedule for later in 2008, this story will remain of interest through the next year.

7. Montel Williams show on reparative therapy – The Montel Williams show purporting to examine reparative therapy was a lightning rod for controversy. On the show, psychiatrist Alicia Salzar falsely claimed that science has shown that 96% of people attempting to change orientation cannot do so and experience harm. Her claim was based on a study, the authors of which acknowledged cannot be used to make such a claim. The unwillingness of the show to retract the statement led to a ethics complaint against Dr. Salzar, filed by Exodus International. 

8. Pro-life/abortion related stories – The most viewed post on the blog consisted of an interview with Grove City College colleague and historian Paul Kengor regarding the religious beliefs of Hillary Clinton.  Other such interviews have been immensely popular with readers as well. Another APA task force, this one on abortion and mental health issues, stimulated grassroots activism, reported here in November. 

9. Emergence of the ex-ex-gay movement – At this year’s Exodus conference, a group of people once involved in ex-gay efforts had a parallel conference to discuss their efforts to recover from their experiences. Perhaps, the newest ex-ex-gay, James Stabile is a 19 year old young man from Dallas who encountered evangelists from the Heartland World Ministry Church in early September. Recorded on film and broadcast on the Christian Broadcasting Network, it appeared that Mr. Stabile was dramatically converted and even reported change in homosexuality. Later it was learned that Mr. Stabile had not changed and was back home with his parents after a stay at ex-gay residential program, Pure Life Ministry.

10. Richard Cohen – An early 2007 debacle on John Stewart’s Daily Show led Mr. Cohen to pledge on my blog that he would do no additional media appearances. He ended his email with a fundraising appeal. In response to this appearance, Exodus issued a statement distancing the organization from Cohen’s work, and NARTH and PFOX quietly removed references to Mr. Cohen from their websites. Cohen made something of a comeback however, with You Tube videos including his family, and a new edition of one of his books with Evangelical publisher, Intervarsity Press. Then, later, I looked into the Unification Church connections of Mr. Cohen’s assistant director and former board member, Hilde Wiemann. Both Cohen and Wiemann initially denied these connections but they were clear enough that cult expert, Steve Hassan, briefly placed the International Healing Foundation back on his list of Unification Church connected groups. Eventually, Mrs. Wiemann acknowledged, in contrast to the initial claims, that she had been involved in the church and had only recently left it. After her repudiation of Moon, Mr. Hassan then again removed the IHF from his list of Unification connected groups.    

Well, that was quite a year. I suppose one could make a case for other stories, e.g., the Omaha websites advocating violence, the quick emergence and then retreat of Michael Glatze as an ex-gay spokesman, Ted Haggard’s three week therapy, the wide stance of Larry Craig, the Surgeon General nominee James Holsinger, Stephen Bennett’s public division with Exodus, Al Mohler’s comments on biology and homosexuality, the retirement of I Do Exist, and my musical comeback and resultant #1 Internet hit.

Now cast your opinion – What would your top ten list for this blog look like for 2007?

Godspeed to all and a Happy New Year!

Top ten posts by number of comments, 2007

UPDATE: I knew the post regarding Michael Brown and the Southern Poverty Law Center article would continue to generate comments but it has now become the post with the largest number of comments (218 as of this update on Dec. 30) and so I am going to update the list as we go.  

Time to review 2007 and as I did last year, I will post a top ten list based on most comments now and one based on not much more than my opinion later.

Without further adieu and with full knowledge that posting the links may lead to more remarks, here are the top ten by number of comments as of December 27:

1. Michael Brown responds to the Southern Poverty Law Center article on ex-gays – 218

2. Debate continues on the Jones-Yarhouse study of sexual orientation – 205

3. Smooth thinking on sexuality: Labels don’t communicate well – 199

4. Our bodies tell us who we are – 168

5. Ex-ex-gays make public statements – 151

6. Queersighted: Imprison conversion therapists – 145

7. Check this out in the gaylibrary.com: Update – 143

8. Same-sex parenting: What do we know? – 134

9. Montel Williams Show on sexual reorientation – 133

10. Salt Lake City program examines cruising behavior, sexual identity – 126

11. APA declines to meet with religious coalition – 125

I like the APA post, so even though it was demoted from the top ten by the same-sex parenting post, I am leaving it on.

Compared to last year, the number of comments has increased substantially. I do appreciate the discussions, and real dialogue that has occured through the year. We are jointly writing several books here.