Uganda Hires Firm to Burnish Image Internationally

Really? Uganda hired a firm to polish up the nation’s image around the world. Watch:

I don’t envy this firm.

Because of David Bahati and those who support him, Uganda is known around the world for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The attention from this bill leads to considerations of corruption and other human rights abuses.

If the bill passes, I suspect pressure will be brought to bear on corporations doing business in Uganda such as Citibank, and Barclays Bank (UK). Various hotel chains doing business there will be targeted. If Starbucks still imports coffee from Uganda, I can imagine an effort to have Starbucks find coffee from somewhere else.

 

Committee Chair: No Plans Set for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Stephen Tashobya, chair of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the Ugandan Parliament, told me yesterday that he had not scheduled consideration for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  Asked if his committee would write a new report, or stick with the report issued during the last Parliament, Tashobya declined to say. “The committee will have a say on that and we will meet soon to decide how to proceed with all of the bills returned to the committee,” Tashobya explained.

When asked if he planned to have the anti-gay bill back to the floor of the Parliament within the required 45 day period, Tashobya expressed some reservations that he could guarantee that time table. He noted, “We have many bills which have a high priority, such as the Marriage and Divorce bill and other bills on commerce.”

Parliament rules require bills sent to committee to be acted on and returned for consideration within 45 days. Last year, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga warned committee chairs that they could face unspecified sanctions if this rule was not kept.

According to Parliament’s rules (see below), Tashobya could ask Parliament for more time if the committee has not prepared the necessary report within 45 days. At that point, Parliament could grant or decline the request. If the request is declined, Parliament could act on the bill at that point. If an extension is granted, the bill will be considered at the end of that period whether or not the committee’s work is complete.

When asked if he had been pressured by the Executive branch to go slow on the  anti-gay bill, Tashobya said he was unable to comment.

Tashobya, who was not at Parliament the day the bill was tabled, said he is aware that the bill has wide support among the MPs.

 

From Uganda’s Rules of Parliamentary Procedures

125. Delays with Bills

(1) Subject to the Constitution, no Bill introduced in the House shall be with the Committee for consideration for more than forty-five days.

(2) If a Committee finds itself unable to complete consideration of any Bill referred to it in sub-rule (1), the Committee may seek extra time from Parliament.

(3) Where extra time is not granted or upon expiry of the extra time granted under subrule (2), the House shall proceed to deal with the Bill without any further delay.

What’s Next for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill?

Click here for the current official text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

This morning AFP news service has an article that correctly reports the story about the bill, amendments and the process involved.

Parliament officials said Thursday that the bill — which US President Barack Obama has described as “odious” — had been reintroduced in its original format, which included the death penalty clause.

Bahati continues to say he will recommend the removal of the death sentence for aggravated homosexuality.

A Ugandan lawmaker behind a proposed draconian anti-gay bill that sparked an international outcry said Friday he wanted to drop clauses that would see the death penalty introduced for certain homosexual acts.

“There will be no death penalty at all…that will go,” David Bahati, the legislator who formulated the bill, told AFP.

As expected, Bahati will recommend the removal of the requirement to report known gay people. However, he wants to zero in on “promotion.”

Bahati said the bill was now focused on stopping the promotion of gay rights, and retains a proposal to criminalise public discussion of homosexuality with a heavy prison sentence.

Here is the section in the existing bill on promotion of homosexuality:

The way this is worded, landlords will not be able to rent to gays, most public establishments will be reluctant to serve more than one gay person at a time, if at all. Gay people using cell phones or the internet (bloggers, emailing, etc.) will be in jeopardy. The potential for use of police power to snoop on private citizens is heightened and the potential to use this law to accuse enemies of promoting homosexuality seems clear. While this seems to be intended to put GLB rights groups out of business, the reach goes far beyond those groups.

Although the reporting requirement has been dropped, I don’t think health care professionals are in the clear. If they give advice to a GLBT person that affirms them, then I believe the way this aspect of the bill is worded, then they might violate the very broad language here.

This clearly violates freedom of conscience for those who are gay and those who are not. If a religious leader is convinced that GLBT persons should be treated with respect and dignity, then they could be viewed as engaging in promotion.

I hope the watching world is not thrown off by the possible removal of the death sentence. This effort remains sinister and has the effect of violation of freedom of conscience and other basic human rights.

Related:

 

 

Current Official Text of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

This morning Helen Kawesa, Public Relations Manager for the Uganda Parliament provided this copy of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which was introduced on Tuesday. As you will see, it is the same bill as was printed in Uganda Gazette on September 25, 2009 and then first tabled on October 14, 2009. Click the screen capture to go to the Gazette copy.

To date, the bill has not been amended and this is the version re-introduced on February 7, 2012.

This morning AFP news service has an article that correctly reports the story about the bill, amendments and the process involved.

Parliament officials said Thursday that the bill — which US President Barack Obama has described as “odious” — had been reintroduced in its original format, which included the death penalty clause.

Bahati continues to say he will recommend the removal of the death sentence for aggravated homosexuality.

A Ugandan lawmaker behind a proposed draconian anti-gay bill that sparked an international outcry said Friday he wanted to drop clauses that would see the death penalty introduced for certain homosexual acts.

“There will be no death penalty at all…that will go,” David Bahati, the legislator who formulated the bill, told AFP.

However, it remains to be seen whether or not the Parliament will alter the bill in the way Bahati now proposes. Two sources within Parliament have informed me that the MPs will be inclined to agree with recommendations made by Bahati and the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee. If he can be believed, Bahati’s strategy seems to have shifted to making it dangerous for GLBT people communicate or gather. More on this in the next post…

Video of Introduction of Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda’s Parliament

The camera lens stays in the gallery, but you can hear the clerk announce the Tuesday tabling of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill at 11 seconds followed by cheering. Then David Bahati speaks and introduces the bill at about 32 seconds into the video, beginning, “Madame Speaker…”

Can you imagine being the object of the effort to jail or end your life while the cheering is taking place?

Ugandan MPs Cheer Introduction of Original Anti-gay Bill

Uganda’s Monitor and government backed New Vision both report this morning that MPs cheered when David Bahati re-introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to the New Vision:

There was excitement at Parliament Tuesday afternoon after the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 was re-tabled for consideration.

Parliament resumed business on Tuesday after over a month of recess.

MPs applauded as Ndorwa West MP David Bahati took to the floor to re-introduce the controversial Bill for reference to the appropriate committee.

After re-tabling the Bill, MPs both on the ruling side and the opposition gave Bahati a standing ovation.

“Our Bill, our man,” the legislators chanted.

This is perhaps the clearest sign yet of the intentions of Parliament to pass the bill over the objections of the Executive branch and donor partners.

The Monitor report has the MPs shouting something a little different (Our bill, our kids) but the same enthusiasm for jailing and hanging gays remains.

BBC Report Wrong on Death Penalty Removal

As an aside, the BBC just can’t seem to get their reporting right. They again are reporting that the death penalty has been removed from the bill. Yesterday, Parliament spokeswoman Helen Kadaga told me that the bill was the same as was introduced in 2009. Bahati has said he would be open to removing the death penalty but this has never been done. In a 2011 report done by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, the death penalty remained in the bill.

This morning I got additional confirmation that the original bill without amendments was introduced yesterday from Charles Tuhaise, Parliamentary Research Service staffer. Tuhaise said that all proposed changes to a Bill are first brought to the floor of Parliament where they are debated by the MPs. Any revisions are accepted to a bill after a majority votes in support of the revision. For now, the original bill is with the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee without amendment.

Related:

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill to be Tabled in Parliament Today – UPDATED

For all posts on Uganda, click here.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill to be Tabled in Parliament Today – UPDATED

See Updates below:

According to Parliament spokeswoman, Helen Kawesa, David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill is on the agenda to be tabled for a first reading in today’s session of Parliament.

Kawesa said, “The bill will go through a new process again. It is a new Parliament.” This means that the bill will be referred today to a committee for study and recommendations. According to the Kawesa, the entire process of a first reading, referral to committee, public hearings and then a committee report to Parliament will be followed. She said, according to the rules of Parliament, the bill cannot be passed today.

She said the bill was basically the same bill as was almost considered in the 8th Parliament. She had no explanation for why the bill was not being considered where it was stalled back in May, 2011.

UPDATE: 8:15am – According to a person in the plenary session of Parliament, Speaker Kadaga said the bills renewed from the 8th Parliament will be read for the first time today but reports on the bills from the 8th Parliament will be used as a basis for moving toward a 2nd reading and debate. If true, this means that the time from first reading to second reading, debate and possible passage will be much shorter than would be true if a new bill was introduced.

UPDATE: 11:05am – There was a rumor that David Bahati would ask for a special action of Parliament to make today’s introduction count as a 2nd reading of the bill, thus allowing discussion and a possible vote. However, according to Ms. Kawesa, Parliament has concluded for the day with no further action on the AHB. In addition, it appears that similar Parliamentary rules will apply to the timing of a second reading as was applied to the first reading in 2009. This means that a minimum of two weeks must pass before the second reading can be accomplished.

Based on reports from Parliament in October, 2011, it was anticipated that the anti-gay measure would be considered by the new Parliament without repeating the first reading. During the October 2011 session, the Parliament voted to return unfinished business from the 8th Parliament to the current session. At that time, Kawesa said that Speaker of the House Rebecca Kadaga’s Business committee could recommend that the anti-gay bill go back to committee or it could recommend that the former committee report become the basis for debate in the Parliament. Based on the Kawesa’s statement today, the bill is starting over in committee.

The original committee report from Stephen Tashobya’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee left the severe aspects of the bill intact, including the death penalty and life in prison (see an analysis here; here is what the bill would look like if all of the committee’s changes were made).

Today’s order paper is below. Note that the bill is slated for a first reading (click to enlarge).

The AP just dropped this report (9:35am):

Uganda’s anti-gay bill reintroduced in parliament

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A lawmaker in Uganda is reintroducing an anti-gay bill that received wide condemnation, including from President Barack Obama.

The bill was reintroduced Tuesday by David Bahati, the bill’s primary backer. It was originally introduced in 2009 but has never come before the full parliament for a vote. The original draft legislation languished in a committee of parliament as the Ugandan government grappled with the international opposition it generated.

The original draft called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts, one of the reasons the bill received so much attention. Bahati told The Associated Press last year that he is willing to drop that provision if that is the recommendation of a parliament committee.

UPDATE: 11:30am – According Melanie Nathan’s interview with David Bahati this morning, the original AHB was re-introduced this morning without changes. Bahati told her that the committee would be recommending changes in the course of their work.

Full text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 as introduced on October 14, 2009 and today.

If the initial committee report were implemented in the coming days, the AHB would look like this.

UPDATE: NTV report 2/7/12

UPDATE: 2/8/12 – Parliamentary research service staffer Charles Tuhaise told me this morning that the bill introduced in Parliament yesterday was the original bill first introduced in October, 2009.  Any amendments will come via affirmative vote on the floor of Parliament after the 2nd reading.

Related:

Ugandan MPs Cheer Introduction of Original Anti-gay Bill

Media report: Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill on Parliament’s Agenda Next Week

According to the UG Pulse:

The Anti Homosexuality bill 2009 and the Marriage and Divorce bill are due for debate when parliament resumes business next week.

The two controversial bills that raised public debate during the 8th Parliament are up for consideration when the Business committee of the House sits next week.

In a letter to MPs on the committee from the office of the Clerk to Parliament, the meeting slated for Monday next week is expected to consider the legislative programme for the 3rd meeting of the 1st session of the 9th Parliament.

The Anti-Homosexuality bill 2009, moved by Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati is one of the bills to be considered on the agenda, despite calls from international human rights activists, donors and gays, out rightly rejected the bill.

Also to be considered is the Marriage and Divorce Bill 2009, which is being pushed for by women rights activists to reform and consolidate laws relating to marriage, separation and divorce.

However religious leaders have rejected the bill, noting that the clause that recognizes cohabitation as a form of marriage is in breach of their religious beliefs.

Other bills for consideration are the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Control bill, the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill, Anti-Counterfeiting Goods bill, as well as the Companies bill.

If I understand this article correctly, what will happen Monday is that the Business Committee will meet to determine when the bills carried over from the 8th Parliament will be debated. One of those bills carried over is the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

This meeting should be watched closely. The Speaker of the House could delay the bill or she could encourage the members to consider it promptly. I wrote about this process back in October, 2011. At that time, Parliament spokeswoman Helen Kawesa laid out the procedure:

Yesterday, I reported that the Parliament of Ugandavoted to return unfinished bills from the Eighth Session to business in the current session. One of those bills specifically referenced was the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

This morning I spoke with Parliament Spokeswoman, Helen Kawesa, who told me that no date had been set for debate on the anti-gay measure. “The Business Committee will meet to decide what bills are considered. Then they will be listed on the daily Order Paper,” Kawesa explained. The Business Committee is chaired by Speaker of the House Rebecca Kadaga and made up of all other committee chairs. Currently, no date has been set for this committee to consider a schedule for the bills returned from the Eighth Parliament.

I also spoke briefly to Stephen Tashobya, chair of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee. His committee prepared a report on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in May and recommended passage with some minor changes. He had no comment on the status of the anti-gay bill since he has been traveling.

According to Kawesa, the Business committee could recommend that the anti-gay bill go back to committee or it could recommend that the former committee report become the basis for debate in the Parliament. Apparently, the return of the bill to the floor is not automatic. The Speaker has some ability to delay it or expedite it. The decision of the Business committee may signal how quickly the bill will move.

The committee report from Tashobya’s committee left the severe aspects of the bill intact, including the death penalty and life in prison (see an analysis here).

It seems the Parliament is determined to take up the bill over the objections of the Executive branch.

Former South African President criticizes Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki criticized MP David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Thursday in Kampala while speaking at an event at Makerere Institute for Social Research.

About the bill’s provisions, Mbeki said:

I mean what would you want? It doesn’t make sense at all. That is what I would say to the MP. What two consenting adults do is really not the matter of law.

Bahati’s responded later to a reporter:

However, Mr Bahati yesterday said the Bill was brought to curb a several issues including inducement, recruitment and funding homosexuality. “His excellency (Mr Mbeki) needs to read the Bill and understand the spirit in which it was brought and the context in which we are talking about,” Mr Bahati said.

Although the Ugandan ambassador to the US recently said the bill was not going to be considered, Bahati seems to believe otherwise.  As far as I can tell, the bill is still “gathering dust” in committee and could still be brought to the floor of Parliament.

Uganda's President says gays should not be harassed

He said this in the context that he would not bow to British pressure. However, he seems to be saying live and let live.

The President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni says he is not moved by the threats issued by the British Prime Minister James Cameroon regarding the reduction of foreign aid to countries that have laws punishing homosexuality.
Museveni, while meeting the Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe at State House Entebbe says Uganda shall not promote such acts of homosexuality under any circumstances.
Early this week, the U.K Government stated that it will deduct the aid to Uganda because of its intention to pass a law that will be against homosexuals’ rights.
Museveni however says his government shall not harass homosexuals because they have lived well in Uganda for ages even before colonization. He says they should practice their acts in private and not in the limelight.
Meanwhile, the Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe says Togo is a homosexual free state.
Gnassingbe has ended his 4 day state visit to Uganda by hailing Uganda for its economical development.

Yesterday, I spoke with a Parliamentary Spokesperson who told me that the Business committee had not met to decide the agenda for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.