A pdf of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2014 as signed today in Uganda is here.
Some reports indicated that the penalty for “the offence of homosexuality” would be 14 years in prison. However, the penalty is actually life.
The offence of homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offence of homosexuality if—
c) he or she touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.
(2) A person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for life.
Life in prison for touching.
The Ugandan professors who stood with Museveni have some explaining to do.
According to a Uganda Media Centre spokesman, President Museveni will sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill today. However, he will do so amid discord on the committee he has appointed for political cover. Dr. Eugene Kinyanda is one name that was on the initial committee but does not appear among the signers of the final report. I have learned that he has declined to sign the report.
Dr Kinyanda wrote to fellow committee member Dr. Ezati and said:
I would like to state that I will not be signing the above document. This is mainly because what was initially just an inquiry to inform the scientific understanding of homosexuality from a medical standpoint has taken a very political direction. I will not be used to justify the passing of a bill which as a doctor I do not fully understand.
Dr Eugene Kinyanda
Dr. Kinyanda is certainly correct to question the political direction of the committee and I applaud his action.
Ofwono Opondo tweeted earlier that Uganda’s President Museveni will sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill at 11am Monday.
Opondo doesn’t hide his views behind his spokesperson role.
Five years ago to the day, Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin raised the flag of concern over the Kampala conference which was the public beginning of the effort to prepare Ugandans for the anti-gay bill. My first post about it was March 2, 2009.
The final report of the Ministry of Health committee on homosexuality will most likely be used by Museveni to evade responsibility for his decision. A copy of that report is here.
H/t – Box Turtle Bulletin
I have obtained a copy of the final report of the Ministry of Health Committee on Homosexuality. Dated February 23, this report is more extensive than the first report with changes to the contents as well as the membership of the committee.
This report provides a more extensive look at research (although it is still missing some very important papers) and more significantly does not include recommendations regarding legislation. Two members were added to the committee: Assoc. Prof Charles Ibingira and Dr. Hannington Kasozi, and two names which were on the meeting minutes and first report do not show up on this report: Dr. Seggane Musisi, and Associate Professor Eugene Kinyanda.
The premise of this whole exercise should be called into question. If genetic determination is going to be the doorway to civil rights, then we should begin looking for the gene which determines membership in the NRM. It is beyond discouraging that the members of this committee did not raise this concern and discuss the limits of science to address the questions Museveni raised.
A particularly cruel part of this report is the recognition that reparative therapy interventions have not been successful. So what are Uganda’s GLB people to do? This anti-gay law can only be seen as abusive if the people who are the target can’t help it and can’t change it.
The copy of the report I have does not yet have signatures. One can only hope that the members will rethink their stance before the report comes to them for their signature.
UPDATE: Apparently, Museveni will sign the bill at 11am.
In a statement dated February 18, but widely available just today (e.g., the Observer), Uganda’s President Museveni seems to leave open the door that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill could be put on hold while he seeks additional input from researchers and scientists. Here is Museveni’s statement in full:
According to a Reuter’s report, the president’s spokesperson said the bill was on hold pending more research.
As I noted earlier this evening, one of the committee member’s of the Ministry of Health ad hoc committee is raising questions about how the committee’s work has been misused.
According to Museveni’s statement, he wants the U.S. government to work with Uganda’s scientific community.
Earlier this week, Peter Mwesige of the African Centre for Media Excellence scrutinized the way the Ugandan press handled the facts surrounding President Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality based on a report by an ad hoc committee of the Ministry of Health. In his article on the matter, Mwesige points out that the president’s political party caucus distorted the committee report by saying homosexuality was “an abnormal behavior.” Significantly, Mwesige quoted one of the committee members, psychologist Paul Bangirana. Bangirana accused the caucus of leaving out vital information which influenced many media reports.
While there are problems with the committee report, Mwesige is correct that the NRM press release did not accurately portray the report. Mwesige ends his article by pointing out that Uganda’s press should have included input from those who will feel the effects of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
And [balanced] factual or accurate reporting would also include journalists not ignoring the human rights-based argument that the gay community invokes in defending their sexuality.
I don’t know how President Museveni came up with the conclusion he did but it is obvious that he misread our letter about scientific consensus on sexual orientation. On the website of Uganda’s State Department, the following was posted yesterday:
While attending the NRM Parliamentary Caucus Retreat at the National Leadership Institute (6th -16th February 2014), President Museveni promised to circulate a letter in response to his request to rule out a possibility that some human beings are genetically born homosexual.
The President partially read out the response by over 200 international experts on the science of homosexuality written to him on the 5th of February 2014 before he said he would sign the anti-homosexuality bill on grounds that no evidence was adduced to the effect that there are human beings homosexual by genetics, by both the international experts and the department of genetics of Makerere University Medical School.
The letter states clearly that “While it is unlikely that there is one simple biological or genetic cause for homosexuality in all people, there are neural, cognitive and personality differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals which appear to have at least some basis in biology.”
Elsewhere in the letter, we were clear that choice plays no role in the onset of sexual attractions:
For the vast majority of people, homosexual and heterosexual, sexual attractions emerge spontaneously without any prior sexual experience, exposure or recruitment. Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice.
There was risk involved in writing the letter and engaging in this process. However, we felt it important to go on record in the manner we did. The signers of our letter are united in condemnation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and it is completely false to imply otherwise. After getting the Ugandan Ministry of Health report, President Museveni expressed his desire to pass the buck to others for his decision. However, the world is watching, and if Mr. Museveni signs that bill, history will record that he is responsible for that action.
Yesterday, Uganda’s state department released some remarks from Yoweri Museveni with his rationale for signing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.
President Museveni’s Remarks on decision to sign anti-homosexual bill at the closing ceremony of the 10-day retreat of the NRM Parliamentary Caucus, 16th February 2014
1. In that bill, I had no problem with punishing people who promote homosexuality.
2. I had no problem with punishing people who become homosexual for mercenary reasons what one would call homosexual prostitution. The man is not a homosexual, but he engages in homosexuality for money.
3. I had no problem with punishing exhibitionism of homosexuality.
The reason I had not signed the bill is to scientifically answer the question; are there people genetically born homosexual? For me, I had thought that since there were people born albino there could be people born homosexual.
But since the medical authorities, the department of genetics of the Medical School from Makerere, say there is no proof yet that people are homosexual by genetics, I told those scientists to put it in writing and they are going to do so. Then I will sign the bill.
Am taking all these precautions because am historically answerable for whatever I do as a leader. There were mistakes made in the 1930s by Hitler because he wanted to make Germany strong..Some of these issues are very crucial and should be handled objectively not emotionally.
I had not concentrated my mind on homosexuality all these years. I thought electricity, roads, were more urgent things. Moreover, I had never seen a homosexual.
When you insisted we sat down and discussed it and we have found a solution systematically.
I know we are going to have a big battle with outsiders, but I will be able to say I asked scientists and this is what they said. That homosexuals are normal people behaving abnormally.
These statements don’t line up squarely with the ministry of health report, but they are clear in the political strategy Museveni will use. He has passed the buck to the “scientists” to justify his actions. The editor of Uganda’s Observer believes Museveni’s decision was based in political trade:
The Observer Editor Richard M Kavuma believes the president may have been guided by political calculations. Because he was keen to win over MPs on key issues such as denying suspects bail on certain offences, Kavuma said, the president may have decided to sign the popular bill as a concession.
“But it is also true that some of the president’s people may challenge the legislation in court and given Uganda’s largely progressive Constitution, they may get the bill declared unconstitutional,” Kavuma said.
“That way the president comes out looking good to his anti-gay electorate, while the judges will take the flak from Uganda’s generally Christian conservative population.”
Kavuma added: “Because the law is likely to fail anyway, the president may have found the political cost of signing the bill to be much lower than that of maintaining his locally ‘anti-people’ stance. On the contrary, he will be praised across churches, shrines and mosques if he signs the bill.”
I think Kavuma is right about the courts. The law clearly violates Uganda’s constitution, and the courts will likely strike it down. However, much harm could come to innocent people before that happens.
So say Buzzfeed and Chimpreports.
According to the Chimpreport, it appears Museveni gave no weight to outside experts and relied instead on a group of physicians and physicians he recruited. Museveni had access to the recent genetics study and had numerous experts available but ignored these resources.
I would very much like to get a look at the report which Museveni had the professors sign.
The press release regarding the committee charged with advising Museveni is here.
PRESENTATION BY A TEAM OF SCIENTISTS FROM MOH ANDMAKERERE UNIVERSITY ON HOMOSEXUALITY ANDGENETICS IN HUMANS
A Ministerial Committee comprising of scientists from MOHand Makerere University was set up to studyhomosexuality and genetics in human beings and advisethe President and the NRM Caucus on the subject ofhomosexuality. The committee comprised of;
Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng – Director General of Health Services-
Dr. Isaac Ezati- Director Planning and Development at MOH-
Dr. Jacinto Amandua – Commissioner Clinical Services-
Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi – Head, Mental Health Desk-
Prof. Seggane Musisi – Professor of Psychiatry atMakerere-
Assoc. Prof. Eugene Kinyanda – Senior Research Scientist, Medical Research Council-
Dr. David Basangwa – Director, Butabika Hospital-
Dr. Sylvester Onzivua – Senior Pathologist, Mulago Hospital-
Dr. Misaki Wayengera – Geneticist, Makerere-
Dr. Paul Bangirana – Clinical Psychologist, Makerere
Prof. Wilson Byarugaba – Rtd. Professor and formerHead of Human and Molecular Genetics, Dept of Pathology, Makerere
Two medical Parliamentarians names; Dr. ChrisBaryomunsi and Dr. Medard Bitekerezo also presented areport whose findings and conclusions concurred with thatof the Ministerial Committee. The following were their observations;
1. There is no definitive gene responsible forhomosexuality.
2. Homosexuality is not a disease but merely anabnormal behavior which may be learned throughexperiences in life.
3.In every society, there is a small number of people with homosexuality tendencies.
4.Homosexuality can be influenced by environmentalfactors e.g. culture, religion and peer pressure among others.
5. The practice needs regulation like any other humanbehavior especially to protect the vulnerable.
6. There is need for further studies to address sexuality in the African context.
Presidential Advisor on Science Dr. Richard Tushemereirwe stated that homosexuality has serious Public Health consequences and should therefore not be tolerated.H.E. the President then made it clear that his work was done and that all he needed was for the Scientists to sign the paper they presented since it would be a historical document forming basis for the signing of the Bill.
H.E. also declared that he would sign the Bill since the question of whether one can be born a homosexual or not had been answered. The President emphasized that
Promoters, exhibitionists and those who practice homosexuality for Mercenary reasons will not be tolerated and will therefore be dealt with harshly.
Hon. Anite Evelyn NRM Caucus Spokes person
In light of the rejection of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill by Ugandan President Yowari Museveni, I asked Parliament spokeswoman Helen Kawesa about Speaker Kadaga’s reaction to Museveni’s characterization of the bill as “fascist.” In an email, she said:
The official position is that Parliament passed the Bill. Its now in President’s hands to assent or not. Parliament did its part and can only wait for the President’s position then the process can take its course.
If Museveni makes good on his stated intentions, the bill will be returned to Parliament with Museveni’s suggested changes. Parliament may consider it or leave the matter alone. This process could extend into next year when the Parliament ends.
Apparently, Museveni does not have the amended bill to review as yet. When he receives it, he will have 30 days to send it back to Parliament.