Saturday, October 31, 2009

Uganda's Outrageous New Sex Law

A Ugandan Parliamentarian wants to outlaw homosexuality and prescribe the death penalty for having sex while HIV positive. (The worse news is, he might actually get what he wants.)

Ugandans can't stop talking about the very thing many argue should be taboo: homosexuality. On Oct. 14, Ugandan Parliamentarian David Bahati introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, an effort, he says, to protect Ugandan families from what he terms the "creeping evil" of homosexuality. It's not the first attempt by an African country to outlaw homosexuality, but it may well be the most extreme. Included in the draft text are not only condemnations of same-sex relations, but a new crime that carries the death penalty, and a criminal sentence for having sex while HIV positive. Human rights advocates say it's illegal, not to mention an outrage. Gay activists say they will live in fear even more than they do now. But the vast majority of Ugandans, sadly, may agree with the law; a 2007 poll found that 95 percent of those surveyed strongly opposed legalizing same-sex relations, period.

Why homosexuality has become such an explosive issue in Uganda has to do, in part, with the complex set of social issues wrapped up in it. These include the erosion of the nuclear family, the influx of global culture, and an epidemic of a HIV/AIDS, whose treatment forces individuals and families to break every social taboo. Most importantly, Ugandans are extremely religious, with more than 94 percent saying religion was important in their lives in a 2008 survey by Afro barometer. And from the country's varied branches of Christianity to its sizable Muslim community, no one preaches tolerance of gay rights.
"This bill is really a summation of an aspiration of Ugandans who believe the traditional family needs to be protected from foreign and internal threats," Bahati, a jovial former accountant who looks much younger than his 35 years, told me. In an interview last week in his small office inside the Ugandan parliamentary complex, Bahati explained that he was not trying to cause controversy by introducing the new bill, though he has received dozens of phone calls from journalists and donors, and even a few threats. "We have our own values as much as we respect the values of others, and we think that homosexuality is not a right."

Homosexuality has always been illegal in Uganda. The Penal Code, drawn heavily from British colonial laws, bans "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature," with a possible penalty of life imprisonment. Still, the issue has rarely been a high priority of enforcement for police or the government. Arrests are uncommon, and prosecutions almost nonexistent, in large part because the standard of proof requires authorities to catch offenders in the act.

Bahati's bill would make such arrests and prosecutions easier, something critics warn could be used to falsely accuse rivals or enemies, but proponents say is necessary to give the current ban teeth. In addition to outlawing "any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex" with penalties up to life imprisonment, the proposed bill criminalizes attempted homosexuality, the aiding and abetting of homosexuality, and promotion of homosexuality -- each carrying a possible prison sentence of seven years.

Failure to disclose an offense is also punishable by a fine and three years in prison. And anyone with knowledge of crimes committed is obligated to report them to the authorities within 24 hours. The legislation also creates a new category of offense, "aggravated homosexuality," which is punishable with death. The latter crime would include having homosexual sex with a minor or someone with a disability or having homosexual sex while HIV positive (the bill makes no distinction about whether offenders must be knowingly infected to qualify.)

If homosexuality were legalized, Bahati says, "Our moral fiber will just be torn down. Society will just be in chaos. You'll see men marrying men, which is contrary to what we believe in."

One common view of homosexuality here, espoused by Bahati and many others is that foreign influence is promoting and funding homosexuality in Uganda. Pastor Martin Ssempa, a prominent anti-gay religious leader, suggested on a talk show last week on Uganda's KFM radio that "civil society organizations must be investigated to see if they received this homosexual money." He later accused guests on the show of being bribed by homosexual activists abroad.
In a separate phone interview before the radio show -- Ssempa declined multiple requests to meet in person -- he said that homosexuality was bad for the community. "It is inherently unhealthy" Ssempa said, and to make his point, he went on to explain in extremely explicit detail a variety of sexual acts he associates with homosexuals.
Speaking with a dozen men and one woman in Uganda's homosexual community tells a different story. Sam Ganafa, 48, a security manager at a telecom company, says he struggled to come to terms with his homosexuality long before being exposed to any outside influence. When he began to realize he was gay, Ganafa said, "I'd not known anything about the Internet, I'd not even met a mzungu, a white person, nothing." Robert, a gay entrepreneur who asked to be identified only by his first name for safety, said that it was only after secondary school did he even learn that he was not the only homosexual in Uganda or in the world. "I was something like 22," Robert said. "It was a relief, because I met people who were like me and I was so happy."
Life as a homosexual in Uganda is difficult enough, Ganafa said, with challenges ranging from being outed by the tabloids and getting beaten or losing your job if discovered. The new bill could make it much, much worse. "The new bill will instill fear because it touches almost everybody. Even you a journalist asking me about this, after it passes, you will not be able to do it. You will be discussing a subject that must not be discussed at all."
In addition to Uganda's homosexual communities, broader opposition is emerging. A civil-society coalition, composed of 23 local organizations, ranging from the few brave gay activist groups to women's rights and constitutional law organizations, has taken out newspaper advertisements to protest the bill. They plan to challenge it on legal grounds as it is debated in Parliament. "Obviously whoever wrote this law isn't a lawyer," said Sylvia Tamale, a professor of law at Makerere University and member of the Association of Uganda Women Lawyers, one of the most high profile organizations opposing the bill. "If you are a lawyer you can't write such nonsense."
For one, Tamale believes that the disclosure requirement would severely violate other laws and traditions of privacy, even if it is intended to protect children, as the bill's proponents argue. "This bill goes beyond [protection]," she said. "If you know anyone who is homosexual you have to report them." Even Ugandans living abroad would not be safe. The bill establishes "extra-territorial jurisdiction" so that known homosexual citizens abroad may be extradited and prosecuted in Uganda.
Tamale and other activists also worry that the promotion clause could prohibit organizations from working, for example, on HIV issues with the gay community in Uganda. In part because admitting to homosexuality is risky in and of itself, few in the gay community get regularly tested. And while struggling with their own identity in the face of immense social backlash, planned safe sex is often a luxury. Even before the new bill was introduced, three gay activists were arrested at a conference on HIV prevention in Kampala in 2008 for trying to attend and distribute materials. A government official explained that the government did not have money to treat HIV among homosexuals.
Robert, the gay entrepreneur I spoke with, has had the same partner for nearly nine years, and introduced him alternately as his husband, partner, and boyfriend at a Ugandan bar known as a safe gathering place. "This is the only gay bar in Kampala," the partner said, declining to be named at all to protect his job. "Why are you so surprised? This is the country that wants to kill and imprison us."
Robert wears a large golden crucifix and said that he like most Ugandans he is still extremely religious, a position shared by Val Kalende, a self-described "LGBT activist" who was one of three arrested in 2008. "I'm a born-again Christian and I'm not ashamed to say that," Kalende said in an interview in a secluded hotel on the outskirts of town. "Actually I'm a minister in my local church. My pastor I think doesn't know, but for me nothing can ever separate me from [religion]."
Gay Ugandans and activists hope that the international community will condemn the bill strongly enough that either Parliament or Uganda's executive branch will back down. Approximately 40 percent of the country's government budget comes from international donors, with most funding from the United States and Europe.
Helping the cause of the bill's opponents is a provision in the draft text that would require the Ugandan Parliament to review all international treaties it as signed and nullify those that conflict with "the spirit and the provisions" of the new bill. Presumably, this would include key conventions such as the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- perhaps enough to spark an international outcry.
In a written statement, a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Uganda said the U.S. mission is "in the process of raising this issue with Ugandan government authorities." If passed, the U.S. statement said, the bill "would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda."
Because the law was introduced by Bahati as a private member of Parliament (most bills are introduced by the executive branch), President Yoweri Musevni has yet to take an official position -- a possible hedging strategy if international uproar becomes too great.
Still, others, like Emmanuel Gyzeaho, a reporter who covers parliament for Uganda's Daily Monitor, think that the provision is sure to pass. "When external pressure is exerted by the donors and they say ‘you guys are pushing some obnoxious legislation so we're going to close the taps on money to you,' then perhaps they will have a sudden change of heart," Gyzeaho said. "[But] given the conservative religious and cultural nature of the ideal Member of Parliament, this bill is definitely going to sail through." Since the vast majority of Ugandans fervently abhor homosexuality, he added, opposing the bill would be political suicide.
Says Bahati: "We are working hard [to pass the bill] and we want your support and prayers."
This Story was written by MICHAEL WILKERSON and Posted on

PRA (Political Research Associates) joins Other Sheep in calling on Rick Warren to denounce Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill

BRONX, NEW YORK, STATE - October 29, 2009

Political Research Associates (PRA), in an eNews they released yesterday calling on "Rick Warren to Denounce Proposed Antigay Law in Uganda" effectively joins Other Sheep in calling on evangelicals to stop the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. PRA reports: "In March 2008, U.S. evangelical leader Rick Warren told Ugandans that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right."

Other Sheep, in its eNews of October 19, called upon evangelicals Rick Warren (USA), John Stott (England), Douglas Carew (Kenya) and the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) to accountability for their part in inducing inhumane and hateful attitudes of Africans towards homosexual Africans.

On January 6 and on October 19 of this year, Other Sheep reported that an article on homosexuality in Africa Bible Commentary, published by AEA and endorsed by Warren, Stott and Carew, says homosexuals "are worse than beasts" and should not be tolerated; homosexuals are "abnormal, unnatural and a perversion." The article also asserts: no view on the morality of homosexuality other than the evangelical view is to be given consideration; the common denominator of same-sex sex is coercive sex; and to be homosexual is sinful. Africa Bible Commentary, published in 2006, is a commentary on the Bible by 70 African evangelical Bible scholars. The featured article on "Homosexuality" is authored by evangelical Nigerian Tusufu Turaki.

Other Sheep is an ecumenical Christian ministry that works worldwide to empower LGBT people of faith. Other Sheep Uganda, a committee made up of Ugandan lay leaders, was organized in 2008 for the purpose of distributing literature on the topic "What does the Bible really say about homosexuality?"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Clergy: Jail gays for life, don’t hang them

Homosexuals should not be killed but instead imprisoned for life, religious leaders have suggested.
Making their input in the Anti-homosexuality Bill 2009 yesterday, said clergy said the clause on death as a penalty for homosexuality be scrapped.
“If you kill the people, to whom will the message go? We need to have imprisonment for life if the person is still alive,” said Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda.
The group, which also comprised Dr Joseph Kakembo of the Seventh Day Adventist church, Dr Joseph Sserwadda, the head of Pentecostal churches, Prof. Peter Matovu, the Orthodox vicar general of the Orthodox and Sheikh Ali Mohammed, representing the mufti, however, made it clear that they support the Bill, because “homosexuality is an evil and is anti-godly”.
The Bill tabled before Parliament on October 15, by Mr David Bahati [Ndorwa East], and Mr Obua Benson [Moroto], seeks to prohibit any form of sexual relations between same sex people.
Parliament yesterday begun public debates on the Bill, conducted by the committee on presidential affairs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

An open Letter to John Holmes

Dear Sir,

Greetings from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community of Uganda.

We would like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention the fact that soon this minority group is going to need humanitarian assistance given the speed at which the human rights situation specifically for this vulnerable group is deteriorating in Uganda.

In March 2009, supported by a group called the Family Life Network (FLN) a group of American anti-gay activists came to Uganda and started a campaign of hate against the LGBTI community in Uganda.

This led to an increase in violence, arrests, blackmail and even deaths of members of this community. Yet this is within a situation where this group already is not catered for in as far as health programs are concerned.

It is against this background that a bill has now been tabled in Parliament that not only criminalizes same sex relationships with a maximum penalty of death but also criminalizes anyone associating themselves in anyway with homosexuals. This bill infringes on almost all the basic human rights and freedoms and makes the whole ciovil society in Uganda disabled as well as forcing Uganda to withdraw from a number of international treaties to which it may be a signatory.

Sir in your capacity as UN Under secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, we call upon your office to add its voice and weight behind this community and pronounce yourself against this inhumane bill which will lead to many deaths of this vulnerable group.

We also call upon you to take any action as you may deem necessary to help this vulnerable community.

Yours faithfully,


An Open Letter to Dr. Douglas Carew

Vice Chancellor of the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology

The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 imposes the death penalty and life imprisonment of homosexuals. An article strongly condemning homosexuals by a leading African evangelical featured in the Africa Bible Commentary which you endorsed sends the wrong message to Ugandan Christians.

Yusufu Turaki's article on "Homosexuality' in Africa Bible Commentary, "a publishing landmark" (John Stott), is hate speech towards homosexuals.

An open letter from John Doner, Latin America Coordinator for Other Sheep:
Dear Dr. Carew:

Do you believe homosexuals should be imprisoned for life? Do you believe homosexuals who repeatedly participate in same-sex activities should be put to death? Do you think persons who support lgbt organizations which simply are seeking their human rights should be put in prison?

I didn't think so, but such legislation is currently being considered in the Ugandan Parliament, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. And evangelical Christians in Uganda are likely to be turning a deaf ear to such demonic, unChristian legislation, influenced by the Africa Bible Commentary which you endorsed in 2006. That commentary has an article on homosexuality, written by Yusufu Turaki. Turaki's article contains the following anti-homosexual remarks:

(a) Turaki's use of the words "abnormal, unnatural and a perversion" in reference to homosexuals; (b) his uncritical use of the quote that "homosexuals are worse than beasts" tied in with (c) his uncritical statement of the African Anglican church's rejection of Archbishop Tutu's call for tolerance, as well as (d) his one-sided account of African "coercive sexual relationships" as his example of "varied" African same-sex sex; (e) an uncritical censorship of all views of homosexuality that are not in keeping with his views ("Our views of homosexuality should not be derived from human sources but from the Word of God"), and (f) his expressed theological view that to be homosexual is sinful (a view not held by evangelicals in the West).

Turaki's article effectively dismisses the church from its responsibility to speak out against the violence in Africa against lgbt people (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender). His article could be used by African evangelicals at this time as an argument for the endorsement of the Ugandan bill.

I am aware that, for the most part, evangelicals worldwide view same-sex sex between consenting adults as immoral. Nonetheless, I cannot believe that evangelicals can stand silently by and watch the Parliament of Uganda vote this inhumane bill into law, especially since evangelicals are so vehemently vocal on the issue of homosexuality.

Therefore, I urge you to openly denounce this bill and to state that Yusufu Turaki's inflexible and dogmatic article on "Homosexuality", in the Commentary that you endorsed, should not be misused by any evangelicals in Africa as an argument for the endorsement of the inhumane Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009.

In Christ's love,

John P. Doner
Latin America Coordinator
Other Sheep - Multicultural Ministries with Sexual Minorities
Mexico City
October 22, 2009

Statement from थे Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law

Anti-Homosexuality or Anti-Human Rights Bill?
Hon. Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill which was tabled in Parliament on October 14, 2009,
and is currently before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament covers
much more than the title alone proclaims. A much better title for this bill would have been the
‘Anti Civil Society Bill, the ‘Anti Public Health Bill,’ or the ‘Anti-Constitution Bill.’ Perhaps
more simply it should be called the Anti Human Rights Bill. As a matter of fact, this bill
represents one of the most serious attacks to date on the 1995 Constitution and on the key
human rights protections enshrined in the Constitution including:
• Article 20: Fundamental rights and freedoms are inherent and not granted by the State
• Article 21: Right to Equality and Freedom from discrimination
• Article 22: The Right to Life (the death penalty provisions)
• Article 27: The Right to Privacy
• Article 29: Right to freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly
and association (this includes freedom of speech, Academic freedom and media
• Article 30: Right to Education
• Article 32: Affirmative Action in favour of marginalised groups and
• Article 36 on the Rights of Minorities
Let us think for a moment of who—quite apart from the homosexuals it claims as its target—
this bill puts at risk:
- any parent who does not denounce their lesbian daughter or gay son to the
authorities: Failure to do so s/he will be fined Ush 5,000,000/= or put away for
three years;
- any teacher who does not report a lesbian or gay pupil to the authorities within
24 hours: Failure to do so s/he will be fined Ush 5,000,000/= or put away for
three years in prison;
- any landlord or landlady who happens to give housing to a suspected
homosexual risks seven years of imprisonment;
- any Local Council I – V Chairperson or Executive member who does not
denounce somebody accused of same-sex attraction or activity risks
imprisonment or a heavy fine;
- any medical doctor who seeks to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS through
working with what are known as most at risk populations, risks her or his career;
- all civil society leaders, whether in a Community Based Organisation, NGO, or
academic institution; if their organisations seek to have a comprehensive position
on sexual and reproductive health, they risk seeing their organisations closed
- any human rights activist who seeks to promote an understanding of the
indivisibility and inalienability of human rights would be judged to be promoting
homosexuals and homosexuality, and be punished accordingly;
- any religious leader who seeks to provide guidance and counselling to people
who are unsure of their sexuality, would be regarded as promoting homosexuality
and punished accordingly;
- any Member of Parliament or other public figure who is sent a pornographic
article, picture or video will become vulnerable to blackmail and witch-hunts;
- any media house that publishes ‘pornographic’ materials risks losing its
certificate of registration and the editor will be liable to seven years in jail;
- any internet café operator who fails to prevent a customer from accessing a
pornographic website, or a dating site, could be accused of ‘participating in the
production, procuring, marketing, broadcasting, disseminating and publishing of
pornographic materials for purposes of promoting homosexuality’; their business
licence could be revoked and they themselves could land in prison.
- any Person alleged to be a homosexual is at risk of LIFE IMPRISONMENT
and, in some circumstances, the DEATH PENALTY
In short, this bill targets everybody, and involves everybody: it cannot be implemented without
making every citizen spy on his or her neighbours. The last time this was done was in the Amin
era, where everyone very quickly became an ‘enemy of the state’. It amounts to a direct invasion
of our homes, and will promote blackmail, false accusations and outright intimidation of certain
members of the population. Do Ugandans really want to mimic the practices of the Khartoum
regime? Have we already forgotten the sex police of Apartheid South Africa, who smashed
their way into people’s bedrooms in an attempt to prevent inter-racial sex?
As Civil Society organisations we condemn all predatory sexual acts (hetero or homosexual)
that violate the rights of vulnerable sections of our society such as minors and people with
disabilities. However, the Bill lumps “aggravated homosexuality” together with sexual acts
between consenting adults in order to whip up sentiments of fear and hatred aimed at isolating
sexual minorities. By so doing, the state fails in its duty to protect all its citizens without
The bill also asserts Extra Territorial jurisdiction. In other words, all of the offences covered by
the bill can be applied to a Ugandan citizen or permanent resident who allegedly commits them
outside the country. Thus homosexuality and/or its ‘promotion’ are added to the very short list
of offences which fall in the ‘political offences’ category. It joins treason, misprision of treason,
and terrorism as offences subject to extra-territorial jurisdiction. Clearly, this is out of all
proportion in relation to the gravity of the act.
On top of these day-to-day considerations about everybody’s safety and security, let us consider
what this bill will do for civil society organisations in Uganda which seek to have a critical
voice and to engage in issues of global concern. One of the objectives of the bill is to prohibit
the licensing of organizations which allegedly ‘promote homosexuality.’ Thus, for example,
any organisation which talked about anal sex as part of a campaign of HIV prevention can be
affected. Had this bill been in place earlier this year, no Ugandan could have participated in the
World AIDS meeting held in Mexico to discuss HIV prevention.
And what about our standing in the eyes of the world? The Bill calls for Uganda to nullify any
international treaties, protocols, declarations and conventions which are believed to be
‘contradictory to the spirit and provisions’ of the bill. In reality, this would involve Uganda
withdrawing from:
• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
• The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its protocols;
• The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
• The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
• The Convention on the Rights of the Child, and
• The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
We note that Uganda is current Chair of the UN Security Council which operates with the UN
Charter and UDHR as guiding principles. It is also current Chair of the Commonwealth and a
signatory to the African Union’s Constitutive Act which has as its premise the promotion and
respect of human rights. In 2009 and 2010 it is hosting AU Summits. What will happen to
Uganda’s hard-won role on the global stage if it nullifies its international and regional human
rights commitments? Uganda cannot wish away core human rights principles of dignity,
equality and non-discrimination, and all Ugandans will pay a heavy price if this bill is enacted.
We will have bargained away our hard-earned rights and freedoms as well as our right to
challenge the State and hold it accountable for the protection of these rights.
In sum, the Bahati Bill is profoundly unconstitutional. It is a major stumbling block to the
development of a vibrant human rights movement in Uganda, and a serious threat to Uganda’s
developing democratic status. If passed, this law would not only prove difficult to implement, it
would also consume resources and attention which would be better directed at more pressing
issues of human rights abuse, corruption, electoral reform, domestic relations and freedom of the
Regardless of our personal moral beliefs and values, we the undersigned organisations are
standing up in defence of Democracy, our Constitution and its enshrined principles of human
dignity, equality, freedom and justice for all.
Kampala, 23 October 2009
• African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF)
• Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)
• Advocates for Public International Law in Uganda (APILU)
• Center for Land Economy and Rights of Women (CLEAR-Uganda)
• Centre for Women in Governance (CEWIGO)
• Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA)
• East & Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
• Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-U)
• Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE)
• Human Rights Awareness & Promotion Forum
• Human Rights & Peace Centre (HURIPEC), Faculty of Law, Makerere University
• Integrity Uganda
• International Refugee Rights Initiative
• Mentoring and Empowerment Programme for Young Women (MEMPROW)
• MIFUMI Project
• National Association of Women’s Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU)
• National Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (NACWOLA)
• Refugee Law Project (RLP), Faculty of Law, Makerere University
• National Guidance & Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NGEN+)
• Spectrum Uganda
• Uganda Feminist Forum
• Women’s Organisation & Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA)
For further information please contact the coalition at

Friday, October 23, 2009


Mongezi Mhlongo (BTM Senior Reporter)

UGANDA- 23 October 2009: Following the tabling of the Anti-Homosexual Bill in the Ugandan parliament, a new Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law has been formed, set to respond to the draconian bill which, according to the coalition undermines basic human rights and the Constitution of Uganda.

Comprising of more than 25 civil society organisations working in various sectors in Uganda, the coalition has taken a staunch opposition to the proposed Anti-Homosexuality bill currently before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

Explaining reasons why the Coalition was formed, Frank Mugisha, Chairperson, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) said, to head the campaign opposing the bill successfully, voices from various sectors are needed for the campaign to be a success.

“In the past we would take up campaigns on our own and we would be accused of being immoral amongst other things, by actually having other human rights defenders, lawyers etc, the campaign will be much stronger and it will go a long way.”

In a statement issued today, members of the newly formed Coalition highlighted that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill does not only target homosexuals but every Uganda citizen, dubbing it an Anti-Human Rights Bill.

The statement further pointed out that the bill contradicts eight fundamental human rights protections afforded to Ugandans and enshrined in the Constitution of Uganda.

Namely, Fundamental rights and freedoms are inherent and not granted by State (Article 20), Right to Equality and Freedom from discrimination (Article 21), The Right to Life –the death penalty provisions (Article 22), The rights to Privacy (Article 27), Right to freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association-including freedom of speech, Academic freedom and media freedom (Article 29), Right to Education (Article 30), Affirmative Action in favor of marginalized groups (Article 32), Right of Minorities (Article 36).

Furthermore, “If passed this law would not only prove difficult to implement, it would also consume resources and attention which would be better directed at more pressing issues of human rights abuse, corruption, electoral reform, domestic relations and freedoms of the press”, cautioned the statement.

Mugisha lauded that the member’s civil society organisation adding that they have played a vital role in the campaign.

“They have been helpful in spreading the word in their networks and organisations sensitizing them about LGBTI issues and the Anti –Homosexual bill.”

Member organisations of the coalition are the following, African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), Advocates for Public International Law in Uganda (APILU), Center for Land Economy and Rights of Women (CLEAR-Uganda), Centre for Women in Governance (CEWIGO), Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA),East & Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-U), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Human Rights Awareness & Promotion Forum, Human Rights & Peace Centre (HURIPEC), Faculty of Law, Makerere University, Integrity Uganda, International Refugee Rights Initiative, Mentoring and Empowerment Programme for Young Women (MEMPROW), MIFUMI Project, National Association of Women’s Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU), National Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (NACWOLA), Refugee Law Project (RLP), Faculty of Law, Makerere University, National Guidance & Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NGEN+), Spectrum Uganda, Uganda Feminist Forum, Women’s Organisation & Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Other Sheep press statement on Ugandan anti-gay bill

Tell Rick Warren, John Stott and Douglas Carew to tell the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) to Denounce the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009

BRONX, NEW YORK, USA. October 19, 2009
In an Other Sheep e-newsletter, Rev Stephen Parelli, Executive Director of Other Sheep, called upon evangelicals worldwide to tell the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) to denounce the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009.

"Uganda is largely evangelical," Parelli said. "Uganda's hateful stance against homosexuals is very Bible based, so they think. Therefore, evangelicals worldwide cannot look on and watch the Parliament of Uganda enact laws against homosexuals that are, as this bill is, criminal, without speaking out. The evangelicals of Africa and from outside of Africa must address their fellow Christians of Uganda and tell them they must, in the name of God, stop this inhumane bill from becoming law."

The newsletter gives a sample letter to use and the contact information of the AEA Executive Board members and AEA Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission.

In addition, Rev. Parelli called upon Pastor Rick Warren of the United States, John Stott of England, and Douglas Carew of Kenya, all recognized evangelical leaders, to denounce the bill. "Warren, Stott and Carew," Parelli said, "have endorsed the 2006 widely acclaimed Africa Bible Commentary in which Nigerian religious leader Yusufu Turaki's featured Homosexuality article effectively dismisses the church from its responsibility to speak out against the violence in Africa against LGBT people (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender). Turaki's article could be used by African evangelicals at this time as an argument for the endorsement of the Ugandan bill." The Other Sheep newsletter provides contact information and a sample letter to Warren, Stott and Carew urging them to speak out against the bill.

Other Sheep is a multi-cultural ecumenical Christian organization that works worldwide for the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith within their respective faith traditions.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sexual Minorities Uganda Condemn the tabled anti-homosexuality bill

As a network of human rights activists, working in the areas of sexual
rights as well as other human rights issues, we write to urge you to
oppose a repressive bill which was tabled in Parliament of Uganda on
14th October 2009. This bill is a blow to the steady progress of democracy
in Uganda. It proposes criminalization of advocacy and support for the
rights of homosexual Ugandans. It also prohibits any public discussion or
expression of gay and lesbian lives and any organizing around sexual
orientation. In doing so, it violates the basic rights to freedom of
expression, conscience, association, and assembly, as well as
internationally recognized protections against discrimination. The
proposed bill intention is to divide and discriminate against the Ugandan
homosexual population, and exclude them from participation in public life,
which goes against the inclusive spirit necessary for our economic as well
as political development. Its spirit is profoundly undemocratic and

Over the recent months increased campaigns of violence have gone
uncontrolled. The violence directed at Homosexual Ugandans has resulted in
the unwarranted arrests of many people; there are eight ongoing cases in
various courts all over Uganda of which four accused persons are unable to
meet the harsh bail conditions set against them. These acts of violence
have now resulted in the deaths of several homosexual people, such as
Brian Pande at Mbale Hospital as he awaited trial. This bill aggravates
stigma and hatred; and renders all promised protections enshrined in the
constitution for all Ugandan citizens void.

Religious leaders and policy makers have also exhibited very hostile
attitudes towards otherwise peace keeping homosexual Ugandans by
publicizing slanderous and hateful messages in the media, creating serious
security concerns for the lives of SMUG network members
Uganda has repeatedly pledged to defend these fundamental freedoms in the
Constitution; it has also signed treaties binding it to respect
international human rights law and standards, including the African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. As part of the community of nations
forming sexual minorities we urge Ugandan parliamentarians and government
to continue to respect these principles and reject this bill, which
establishes a new and totally undemocratic level of policing private life.
SMUG condemns both of these positions as undemocratic and unacceptable.

These positions will further set a dangerous precedent and send a signal
that any Ugandan’s privacy is unguaranteed -that all of our civil society
could be put under attack. If this bill is passed into law, it will
clearly endanger the work of all human rights defenders and members of
civil society in Uganda.

This proposed legislation violates Uganda’s most basic obligations to the
rights, and well-being, of its people. By signing international treaties
and entering the international community, the Ugandan government has
undertaken the obligation to promote and protect the human rights of its
population, without discrimination on any grounds. As the Sexual
Minorities in Uganda, we urge you to act on that obligation, and to
further the growth of our democracy. Kindly vote against this bill.

Sexual Minorities Uganda - SMUG
Sexual Minorities Uganda - SMUG is a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and intersex people’s organizations based in Uganda.

Homosexuals face death penalty [More]

The New Vision
Wednesday, 14th October, 2009
By Mary Karugaba and Catherine Bekunda

Aggravated homosexuality will be punished by death, according to a new bill tabled in Parliament yesterday.

The private member's bill was tabled by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati (NRM).

A person commits aggravated homosexuality when the victim is a person with disability or below the age of 18, or when the offender is HIV-positive.

The bill thus equates aggravated homosexuality to aggravated defilement among people of different sexes, which also carries the death sentence.

The Bill, entitled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, also states that anyone who commits the offence of homosexuality will be liable to life imprisonment.

This was already the case under the current Penal Code Act.

However, it gives a broader definition of the offence of homosexuality.

A person charged with the offence will have to undergo a mandatory medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

The bill further states that anybody who "attempts to commit the offence" is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

"The same applies to anybody who "aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality" or anybody who keeps a house or room for the purpose of homosexuality.

The bill also proposes stiff sentences for people promoting homosexuality.

They risk a fine of sh100m or prison sentences of five to seven years.

This applies to people who produce, publish or distribute pornographic material for purposes of promoting homosexuality, fund or sponsor homosexuality.

Where the offender is a business or NGO, its certificate of registration will be cancelled and the director will be liable to seven years in prison.

Failure to disclose the offence within 24 hours of knowledge makes somebody liable to a maximum sh5m fine or imprisonment of up to three years.

The provisions, according to the bill, are meant to "protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex."

They are also meant to prohibit the "promotion or recognition of such sexual relations in public institutions and other places through or with the support of any government entity or NGO."

The bill further aims at protecting children and youth who are "made vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technologies and increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption or foster care."

Bahati said the legislation is intended to complement the provisions of the Constitution and the Penal Code Act.

Homosexuals face death penalty in Uganda according to news article

The New Vision, Uganda's Leading Website, Wednesday, 14th October, 2009

"I fear for Uganda, or any state, when the church, by how it acts, might as well be parliament, and parliament, by how it acts, might as well be the church." - Rev. Stephen R. Parelli

Dear Other Sheep Friend,

This news article was sent to me today by email from a more recent contact in Uganda. He wrote that because of this bill he is finally seeking to leave his country.

I ask: Where is the voice of the churches in Uganda, that voice that should be raising moral objections to this bill? I believe, sadly, you are hearing the voice of the churches in Uganda as you read this bill. Mary Nyangweso Wangila in her book Female Circumcision: The Interplay of Religion, Culture, and Gender in Kenya quotes John Mbiti as describing Africans as "notoriously religious" by explaining "Wherever the African is, there is his religion: he carries it to the fields where he is sowing seeds or harvesting a new crop; he takes it with him to the beer party or to attend a funeral ceremony; and if he is educated, he takes religion with him to the examination room at school or in the university; if he is a politician, he takes it to the house of parliament."

Some in the church need to arise and say to the church, "Wait! The Bible is not at all that clear on the topic of homosexuality. We have drawn our conclusions without doing our homework on the Biblical passages and we have, therefore, judged our brother perhaps without cause." Some in parliament need to arise and say to parliament, "Wait! We are in danger of marking our laws on the basis of religious teaching rather than civil rights for all. Do we enact laws that copy ecclesiastical codes, or do we enact laws that protect the equality and justice of all?"

I fear for Uganda, or any state, when the church, by how it acts, might as well be parliament, and parliament, by how it acts, might as well be the church.

May God save the parliament of Uganda from this bill of civil injustice and social inequality.

Rev. Steve Parelli
Other Sheep Executive Director
MCC Clergy

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gay Kenyan Gives Account of Attack

by Jose Ortiz and Steve Parelli October 5, 2009 Bronx, NY
The Victim

The victim, an active member of Other Sheep Kenya, is a gay Christian Kenyan adult male living in Kenya. The victim is a long standing member of a large and prominent mainline church in Kenya. He takes an active role in the weekly services of his church. The victim grew up in the parsonage. His father, now deceased, was a clergyman.

(According to one Kenyan minister who commented, it is very unlikely that the victim's present church will take notice of this attack if the members learn that he is gay.)

Here is what the victim reported:
The Attack - as reported by the victim in a phone conversation

A new "friend" who is not to be trusted

Not too long ago, a certain neighbor of mine - a fellow Kenyan - came to my home and introduced himself. He was very friendly and so we had talks together about life in general. With time, he told me he had a job working for an organization (which he named) that has health programs for the gay community. He said he wanted to understand "what is this thing about gays, and how does it work, and if there are any gays in Kenya." He told me that he was just beginning to hear about gay people and so he needed to understand more about it. I decided to open up to him and tell him I was gay. When I did, we had a long conversation. He asked me questions in a very nice manner.


Then things changed. He said he was trying to gather information to confirm that I was gay because there should not be any gays in society. He said he was going to take action. Then he started asking me if I had any money. He said he would tell someone in the neighborhood that I am gay - someone who would not take the information very kindly. If I wanted him to keep quiet about my orientation then I was to give him money. I thought, at first, he was joking. He said he studied criminology and could do what he said he would do.

Manipulated, threatened and forced to the home of a good friend who said he wanted to kill him

On the night of the beating, this same neighbor who had blackmailed me, came to my home and grabbed me and told me to come with him. He said he was taking me to see a certain friend of mine which he also knew. He named the friend and he was, indeed, a very good friend of mine. He said if I would not go with him he would start screaming to everyone nearby that I am gay and that I had tried to molest him. I said, "OK, if you want my friend to know, let's go." I didn't know if they had planned this out together, but I decided it would make things easier for me if I were to go. I felt that my good friend would take the time needed to understand me and accept me still as his friend. However, I was shocked by his reaction. He didn't want to listen to anything I had to say. He just said, "I knew he was gay. He should be killed. He should be destroyed. Don't let him say another word. Let's just hit him and let's make sure he is destroyed."

The neighbor who had grabbed me and forced me to my good friend's home said, "You accept that you are gay and that you should not be gay?" I tried to explain to them both that there is nothing wrong in being gay; that gay people are normal human beings; that gay people do no wrong to any one; that they need to be given the opportunity to explain what they go through, that is, the kind of stigmatization they experience in society.
But they would not listen to any of this.

There, at his home, my very good friend said, "I have a gun. We have to destroy him. I don't care if he is my best friend. He isn't anymore."

The victim attempts to verbally defend himself

I think my very good friend was homophobic all along, but he had no evidence that I was gay until this night when I admittedly told him I was gay. I told them they needed to understand. I told them that I have accepted myself as a gay man and that if I have done anything criminal then, instead of hitting me, they needed to call the police and write up a report against me. But they said, "No, we just have to hit you."

Other people join in to hit and beat the victim without mercy

It was my very good friend that started to excite to action the others who were there. They started hitting me and saying they should call the brother who plays rugby - that he would deal with me properly; that he would hit me at the end of each day until I become normal. And that I should no longer live in the neighborhood.

As they hit me they shouted, "You can change, you can change." They were hitting me so I would change and would understand that I needed to be heterosexual. A crowd was being drawn in by the commotion and my good friend was telling them to hit me and beat me and not to listen to anyone [who said otherwise].

The beating resulted in swelling to the head and chest with bleeding. My mouth and lips are swollen because they stepped on me and jumped on me. They actually did call the rugby guy and a second guy in town. They lifted me up and threw me on the ground and then stepped on my head.

On lookers aid the victim; the perpetrators follow the victim to his home

Ladies near by started screaming, "They are going to kill this man." Some people starting saying, "Let him live." These people saved my life. Two men held back the guys who were attacking me, saying, "You have to stop this!" At that point I had a chance to get away and went to my home, locked the door, and went to my room. But they still came after me. They attempted to break the door in. Instead, they broke all the windows in the house. They told me they would return in the morning to destroy me.

A kind woman told me I should leave.

After the attack: hospital; lawyer; victim comments

The victim went to the hospital. At some point he contacted his Other Sheep East Africa Coordinator, Rev Michael Kimindu, formerly an Anglican priest, now ordained an MCC minister. At the hospital the victim was given a medical report which was presented to the police.

The victim expressed willingness to go public on any level at some time in the future in order to prevent further bashings of gays. "I won't fear coming out," he said, "because I don't want someone else to go through what I have gone through."

For his safety, the victim is staying in the home of a friend. A lawyer who has worked with Other Sheep in the past has been contacted.

Rev. Kimindu: "The church will not speak up for the gay person" - not even in the face of something like this

Rev. Michael Kimindu, in a phone conversation with Jose Ortiz on October 4, said, "The attackers were people that know the victim. They were from his home area. The attackers were not armed; they used their bear hands. The victim cannot open his mouth to take in food. He drinks with a straw."

Kimindu July 6 2007 at Makokha's ChurchRev. Kimindu (photo at left), commenting on the need for change in Kenya, said, "I'm telling you, the Kenyan church in general will not do anything for the safety of gay people. They will only bash them. According to the churches in Kenyan, when you are gay and getting beaten you are getting your reward - what you deserve. They look at us [gays and those who support gay rights] as sinners and when something goes wrong with us, they conclude that God must be punishing us. The church is against the gay person, so it will not speak up for them. Kenya must change so that there is safety and security for everyone."