Saturday, January 9, 2010

What to make of the news from Uganda?

Seems like confusion? Yes, it is. Of course. Is the government for or not for the bill? Yes, it is. The bill would never have seen the light of day if the government was opposed.

So, how does it work?
The bill (text here) is in parliament. It was introduced by a Private member, though he is a member of the ruling party. Theoretically, it is only parliament which can do anything about it, now.

But, there are some very strong caveats to that.
Parliament is supposed to be independent of the executive, the government. In actual fact, the ruling party, NRM, has more than a two thirds majority in the 8th Parliament of Uganda. The ruling party is controlled by the President. Lock, stock, barrel. To a man, and woman.

All ministers, ALL, have to be members of parliament. So, parliament has 70+ members, who are in the executive.

A matter of spin for the government. Parliament is free, or supposed to be independent. In actual fact, parliament carries out the will of the government, the will of the president. Bahati is a pawn in a very large game.
So, when he refuses to withdraw the bill, he is within his rights. Of course. But, remember that he is also playing for the same team.
Lawmaker David Bahati said he will not heed a call late Thursday from the government to drop the proposed bill, as he feels such a measure is necessary in the conservative East African country.
On Thursday, Minister of State for Investment Aston Kajara said the government would ask Bahati to scrap the bill because they fear backlash from foreign investors. The bill, which Bahati proposed in September, has provoked criticism from gay-rights groups and protests in London, New York and Washington.
"I stand by the bill," Bahati said. "I will not withdraw it. We have our children in schools to protect against being recruited into (homosexuality). The process of legislating a law to protect our children against homosexuality and defending our family values must go on."
That leaves the decision to the country's parliament, which will discuss the legislation in late February or early March. 
And, this from the BBC. 
With the cabinet still to discuss the bill formally, Information Minister Kabakumba Matsiko stressed that the government had not yet decided whether or not to back it.
But Mr Kajara's comments are believed to be the first public sign that some members of the government may not support the bill.
"The government's position is that the existing provisions in our penal code against homosexuality are strong enough and that this new bill is not necessary," he told AFP news agency.
Earlier, Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper quoted Mr Kajara as saying: "We may talk to the honourable MP to consider withdrawing it."
However, Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo, who has frequently criticised homosexuals, said Mr Kajara was not speaking for the government.
The information minister said that the government could not intervene - even if it wanted to - until after the bill had been debated by parliament.

Kajara is worried about investment. Rightfully so, of course. But, stronger passions are playing out here.
The Bahati bill is a public relations nightmare for the government and the president. He has wanted to ‘divorce’ himself from the proceedings, but, since the country is what it is, and we are a pseudo democracy, that is an impossible task. He is squarely in charge, even when he seems to keep silent.
For Uganda to be compared, rightfully, to the Amin era, well, that is the kind of language Ugandans do understand. But, they don’t as yet seem to understand WHY that comparison is being done. They still adamantly blame the 'homosexual agenda', that mysterious force or demon which has taken over governments of the west. So, the war is not yet over. The bill is still in parliament, and, the government is determined that it does pass.

Meanwhile, popular anger and condemnation from around the world continues. School children, Church leaders (the bill is in the name of Christ), and others are condemning it, or trying to place spin on the distance between themselves and the Bill. The Seventh Day Adventists are trying to do so. Its for you to decide whether they do. Teen Mania, which apparently Martin Ssempa represents in Uganda, is sort of distancing themselves. 

Hey, if you are a Ugandan Christian. And, you support the bill because it is morally upright, can you take a tiny step back and ask yourself, WHY are Christians outside Uganda so incensed at this Bill which is made in the name of Christ? Why, Why, Why?

Here is the communication from the Seventh Day Adventists.

Statement from the Communication Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Church leadership noted with concern some statements reportedly made by the Uganda Union Mission Executive Director in connection with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill under consideration in Uganda. These views do not reflect the values of the Church as expressed in published statements on same sex conduct.
Seventh-day Adventists continue to affirm the equal dignity and rights of every person as articulated in the relevant international human rights declarations and Covenants.
--Rajmund Dabrowski, Communication Director

If you still believe that the Homosexual International is the one that is doing all this, then you DO need examination of your head.

I dont think the government as yet realises what a Public Relations Disaster is ongoing. The cabinet is huge, unwieldy, with disparate interests. And, different people have different priorities. It is no joke to Minister Buturo. He wants the bill passed. Yesterday. And, he is pulling, pushing, and doing everything possible. Of course, there are more pragmatic voices. The storm of international condemnation has made a few people worried. But, the spin from the government in Uganda is still disjointed. Still pointing to non-existent parliamentary independence. The government tossing out the sop of removing the ‘death penalty’ provisions. They just don’t seem to have a comprehension of what is happening in the outside world.
Here, the Irish Times tackles what the world sees. Uganda’s Obligations. 
But the private Bill, which can only be described as medieval and witch-hunting, will still require those with knowledge of a gay person to report them to police within 24 hours or risk three years in jail. It would criminalise public discussion of homosexuality and could penalise someone who knowingly rents property to a homosexual. One of its staunchest supporters, James Nsaba Buturo, Uganda’s minister of state for ethics and integrity, now says that it will be amended. “The president doesn’t believe in killing gays. I also don’t believe in it ... The Bill will also promote counseling to help ‘attract errant people to acceptable sexual orientation’.” But “homosexuals can forget about human rights,” he said recently.
The Bill, even if amended, will remain utterly abhorrent. It will give Uganda the dubious distinction of signing up as a Christian country to the sort of homophobic legislative regime typical of hard-line Islamist theocratic states like Sudan, Mauritania, Iran and Saudi Arabia, which punish homosexuality with death.
The legislation talks about the “cherished culture” of Uganda and its “legal, religious, and traditional family values”, much of them imbued with a deeply conservative evangelical influence partly imported from the US. The Ugandan excess of zeal has, however, proved too much even for the US’s most ardent campaigners against gay rights. One who has distanced himself most firmly, Californian mega-evangelist Rick Warren, has called the proposals “unjust, extreme and un-Christian”.
(Talk about being tone deaf.)
Nor is there anything Christian about the daily experiences of Uganda’s embattled gays who report beatings, blackmail, death threats and the vicious practice of what has been described as “correctional rape”. While homosexuality is widely viewed as an immoral western import in Uganda and throughout Africa... such cultural prejudice and bigotry do not outweigh the country’s international human rights obligations. If Uganda does not want pariah status.
I am convinced that the story is going to wax strong for longer…!

In fact, this (below)  is a succinct summary of what the situation on the ground is.
Other observers said that Uganda has failed to acknowledge the diplomatic repercussions of the legislation.
"I think generally there has been a serious failure to appreciate the foreign policy implications of this bill," said Busingye Kabumba, a law lecturer at Kampala's Makerere University.
"In Uganda we have a semblance of democracy, not a full democracy. So all sorts of ministers can shout about how foreigners should stay out of Uganda's business.
"At the end of the day everyone knows it all comes down to one man, the president."

Have a great day. Keep praying.



Metavirus said...

Thanks for linking to my post on Much appreciated. Love your blog and your writing. I hope the Ugandan law doesn't get passed. Stay strong!

Anonymous said...

I am maintaining and updating the article on Wikipedia ( People are reading this ( I'm updating this article every day.

People do care.

gayuganda said...

Thanks, and please continue the good work.

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