Uganda Watch: David Bahati Vows to Press Ahead with His Anti-Gay Bill

Recently, a delegation from the Kennedy Center visited Uganda and spoke with various politicians, including mover of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, David Bahati. In this NTV clip, Bahati sounds resolved to continue with his crusade.

Parliament is currently on recess, subject to the Speaker’s recall.
Bahati continues to frame his bill as a child protection measure despite the fact that existing laws already cover offenses against minors. Moreover, every gay organization in Uganda supports penalties for child molestation.

Uganda Watch: Bahati questioned about death of MP; Museveni outlines position on gays

Bahati under scrutiny

David Bahati finds himself in the spotlight again but this time not for his Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Rather he is under some scrutiny over his alleged relationship with a murder suspect. The Observer has the story:

Almost a week after Cerinah Nebanda’s death, David Bahati, the anti-gay bill sponsor, finds himself thrust into the unviable limelight as a person of interest in the death of the Butaleja woman Member of Parliament.

Until now, Bahati was known and has struggled to keep attention on his anti-gay draft legislation that has caused an uproar in the international community.

But on Wednesday, Nebanda’s family fingered Bahati as the link between Cerinah and her alleged boyfriend Adam Kalungi, who is a key suspect and still on the run. Bahati, in a statement issued yesterday, roundly denied that claim. Here is how Bahati’s name came to the fore.

Read the rest of the story at the link above. It appears that President Museveni and Bahati are giving different accounts of Bahati’s knowledge of the suspect.  It is hard to say whether this development will hamper the author of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Museveni outlines position on gays

President Yowari Museveni outlined his position on gays in Uganda earlier this week.  At the installation of Catholic Archbishop Ntagali, Museveni said

“I have been telling these people (pro gay activists) that nobody will kill or prosecute them for being homosexual, but there should be no promotion of homosexuality,”

It is not clear what Museveni means by promotion. However, in the current Anti-Homosexuality Bill this section relates to promotion:

13. Promotion of homosexuality.

(1) A person who –

(a) participates in production. procuring, marketing, broadcasting, disseminating, publishing pornographic materials for purposes of promoting homosexuality;

(b) funds or sponsors homosexuality or other related activities;

(c) offers premises and other related fixed or movable assets for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality;

(d) uses electronic devices which include internet, films, mobile phones for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality and;

(e) who acts as an accomplice or attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices;

commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a line of live thousand currency points or imprisonment of a minimum of five years and a maximum of seven years or both fine and imprisonment.

(2) Where the offender is a corporate body or a business or an association or a non-governmental organization, on conviction its certificate of registration shall be cancelled and the director or proprietor or promoter shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.

The free speech implications of this section are clear. Ugandans will have to watch what they say and it is easy to see how the section could be abused by those in power.

 

Uganda Watch: No Business Today; Bahati Talks about the Bill

Due to the death of a former MP, Uganda’s Parliament will not consider any business today. Instead, they will take the day for a memorial to former MP Atenyi Deo Zabasaija.

Yesterday, Melanie Nathan spoke to David Bahati about his anti-gay bill. You can read that interview here. Bahati again claims that there is new draft of the bill sans death penalty which he will read in Parliament soon. However, when a Ugandan asks Parliament for a copy of the bill, the 2009 version is handed out. The report may suggest the removal of hanging but this suggestion does not guarantee that the Parliament will agree to it. Also, it is possible that the language has been changed but the penalty remains — as occurred in May, 2011.

The bill might make it on the agenda tomorrow but I doubt it will be acted on because the contentious oil issues have not yet been resolved.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Appears on Parliament’s To-Do List

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is listed on today’s order paper under the heading of “Notice of Business to Follow.”

NOTICE OF BUSINESS TO FOLLOW 

  1. MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT TO URGE GOVERNMENT TO BAIL OUT SEMBULE STEEL MILLS LTD FROM THE INTENDED SALE OF ITS PROPERTIES
  2. PRESENTATION, CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF THE REPORT ON THE ADHOC COMMITTEE INVESTIGATING THE ENERGY SECTOR
  3. THE ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL, 2012

4.         THE PUBLIC ORDER MANAGEMENT BILL, 2012

5.         REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ON THE STATUS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES

6.         REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ON THE AFRICAN SPACE RESEARCH PROGRAM (ASRP)

7.         REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL ECONOMY ON THE REQUEST BY GOVERNMENT TO BORROW SDR 87.1 MILLION (USD 135.0M) FROM THE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION (IDA) OF THE WORLD BANK GROUP FOR FINANCING OF THE WATER MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT (WMDP)

8.         REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE NATIONAL ECONOMY ON THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY

9.         PETITION AGAINST THE OFFICIAL RECEIVER OF UGANDA ELECTRICITY BOARD (UEB) AND UEB (IN LIQUIDATION) FOR NON-PAYMENT OF GRATUITY

KAMPALA

21ST NOVEMBER 2012

The bill reached this level of attention back in May, 2011 but time ran out before the bill was debated. There is now plenty of time for this bill to come to the floor prior to the planned December 15 recess.

Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament Wants Anti-Homosexuality Bill Debated Next Week

So says the Monitor.

The Speaker of Parliament has directed the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to present the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2011 on the floor of Parliament.

The committee chairperson, Mr Stephen Tashobya, passed on Ms Rebecca Kadaga’s directive to committee members yesterday as he summoned them to attend next week’s session in person “to have the Bill concluded”.

In her November 13 letter, the Speaker advised Mr Tashobya to be mindful of what she said was the high demand by the public to address homosexuality.

“I write to reiterate my earlier instruction to your committee to expeditiously handle the review of the report on the Bill. As you are aware, there is high demand by the population to address the escalating problem of promoting and recruiting minors into homosexuality,” the letter reads in part.

“This is therefore to inform you that I shall place the Bill on the Order Paper immediately after conclusion of the Oil Bills,” she wrote. Parliament is concluding consideration of the Petroleum (Exploration, Production and Development) Bill as the House breaks off for Christmas recess on December 15, which suggests that after the Bill is hopefully completed by next Tuesday, MPs can expect to debate and probably pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Mr Tashobya said his committee had “a working document [ready] because we had a lot of responses during the public hearings.” The Bill was presented as a Private Members’ Bill by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati in the 8th Parliament and has since become a subject of international discussion, with a number of Western countries threatening to cut aid to Uganda if it is passed.

The working document is a report left over from the 8th Parliament and makes very few changes in the anti-gay bill.  I wrote about the committee report in May, 2011:

A paper designated as the final report of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee was leaked last Thursday, just ahead of Friday’s final session. I have good reasons to believe that the report did come from the committee although I cannot say for certain that the report would have been presented on the floor of the Parliament had the bill gotten that far. You can read the report, converted to a .pdf, by clicking here.

To help see what a revised bill would have looked like, I compared the original Anti-Homosexuality Bill with the report. This version makes the changes called for in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee report (Click the link). In this version the sections crossed out were in the original bill and those underlined are the ones suggested by the committee.

Even after the changes, the penalty for private, consensual  same-sex intimacy would still be life in jail and the death penalty would remain since it is the penalty provided for aggravated defilement in Uganda. Clauses 4, 7, 8, 14, 16 & 17 were deleted but a new penalty for participating in the marriage of a same-sex couples. Presumably, this would discourage ministers from performing the ceremonies. Even if the bill had been amended in the manner suggested by the committee, the bill would have defined homosexual behavior in a way that criminalized the most modest forms of intimacy with either life in prison or death for HIV positive individuals.

According to the Monitor report, the Speaker wants to have the second reading of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill after the Petroleum Bills are completed. According to today’s agenda, the oil bills were debated in today’s session (click here to read the order paper for today). The listing of business to come does not list the AHB but according to the Monitor, Kadaga is going to put it on the order paper for sometime next week.

 

Uganda now says it doesn’t discriminate against gays; AP says the bill has been shelved

Which part of this post’s headline do you believe?

Here is the link to the AP article in the Washington Post.

Simon Lokodo appears to be in a bit of trouble now that he has broken up a couple of legal meetings of LGBT people. It appears that Lokodo had the green light to harass gays but now he is on his own.

I am aware that Stephen Tashobya, the committee chair of the committee where the bill sits thinks there are better things to do than mess with the anti-gay bill. However, it is just wrong, as the AP article says, to say that the bill has been shelved. Why do so many reporters rush to do something with the bill that the Parliament has not done?

In short, I don’t believe either part of my headline.

Here is a link to the Government statement.

 

Uganda to ban NGOs over gay rights

The crackdown continues:

KAMPALA (Reuters) – Uganda said on Wednesday it was banning 38 non-governmental organisations it accuses of promoting homosexuality and recruiting children.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, along with more than 30 other countries in Africa, and activists say few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and losing their jobs.

Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo told Reuters the organisations being targeted were receiving support from abroad for Uganda’s homosexuals and accused gays and lesbians of “recruiting” young children in the country into homosexuality.

More coverage of police crackdown on gay rights meeting; anti-gay bill may be considered this session

Freedom of association, freedom of speech; these are precious freedoms that Ugandan gays do not have. And if David Bahati gets his way, very soon, Ugandan LGBT people may not have freedom to live.

Note Bahati at the end of the video. He says Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee Chair Stephen Tashobya has assured him that the bill will be acted on in the next session.

Folks, it looks like it is time to wake up again.

Police break up LGBT conference in Uganda

Uganda’s police with nothing better to do…

KAMPALA — Ugandan police on Monday raided a gay rights workshop in Kampala and questioned activists attending the gathering, rights campaigners said.

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, the organisation behind the workshop, said that police interrupted the meeting and began questioning participants at the event, including activists from Canada, Kenya and Rwanda.

The police forced their way into some of the activists’ hotel rooms, the group said in a statement.

The training workshop was intended to bolster the local gay community’s abilities to report rights abuses, the statement said.

Activists condemned the police action and said it represented a growing trend.

From NTV Uganda:

Uganda’s clergy calls on Parliament to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

I have written a headline like that several times since 2009. However, in 2012, the calls still come:

In a statement, the bishops called for the review of the Constitution to reduce the excessive powers enjoyed by the President.

Orombi said there is need to enact a law to protect the sitting President from being bombarded by the people asking him to address issues that can be solved by the relevant institutions.

“The President cannot do everything. We want the relevant government institutions to be allowed to do their work instead of everyone asking the President to solve their problems,” he added.

The religious leaders called on Parliament to expedite the passing of the Anti-homosexuality Bill into law to combat same-sex marriages which threats the moral fabric of the Ugandan society.

They also urged government to do everything in its power to get to the bottom of the causes of nodding disease, with the view of wiping it out to save the people in the north where it has so far killed over 200 children since 2009 when it broke out.

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga in a speech read for by Bahati said the Church should continue advising the political leaders objectively.

I suspect David Bahati asked for and received a call from Orombi to tout his bill. This statement is a sign that the clergy and Bahati have not given up on it.