Friday, November 20, 2009

Homosexuality Bill is extreme- activists



Legal experts and activists have warned government against passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before parliament arguing that some of the clauses go ‘overboard’.

The experts who held a public dialogue on Wednesday on the bill at Makerere University said that if passed in its current form, the bill would hinder the fight against HIV/AIDS because it criminalises homosexuality.

According to Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga, the Executive Director of the National Guidance and Empowerment Network of people living with HIV/Aids in Uganda, who has lived with the HIV virus for over 20 years, said “15 per cent of the HIV/Aids spread is as a result of gay activities.

Maj. Ruranga said: “The best thing is to educate them (homosexuals) because criminalization causes stigma, discrimination and denied knowledge on HIV/Aids and its treatment.”

According to Clause 14 of the Bill, “A person in authority, who being aware of the commission of any offence under this Act, omits to report the offence to the relevant authorities within 24 hours of having first had that knowledge, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years.”

Maj. Ruranga asked the government to do more “analysis on the clauses before the bill is passed into law to avoid bad consequences especially in the fight against HIV/Aids.”

Dr. Sylvia Tamale, a Law don at Makerere University and human right activist, said that the Bill suggests that parents, counselor, friends, employers, legislators and health practitioners will be liable to imprisonment and appealed to members of parliament to withdraw the Bill.

“Five of the 18 clauses are problematic from the legal point of view and the attempt to outlaw the Promotion of Homosexuality will affect everybody because the clauses introduce censorship and undermine freedom of expression, speech, association and assembly,” Prof Tamale said.

When contacted on phone, Mr. Bruce Kyerere, president Uganda Law Society said that in his personal opinion, the Bill “goes overboard.”
“As Uganda Law Society, we have just received the bill asked a committee to look into it. But as a person, I have issues with the bill. It has gone a bit overboard. That shouldn’t in anyway suggest that I support homosexuals,” Mr. Kyerere said in an interview.

To add on the voices on the need for the law to reflect moral values of society, Mr. Stephen Langa, Executive Director, Family Life Network said that people who engage in homosexuality reduce their life span by 20 to 30 years.

Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati, who tabled the Bill, said that the government was determined to do away with development partners who have threatened to withdraw their aid if the bill is passed.

“We are determined that this bill goes through. We are not in the hate campaign but are in the fight for vulnerable Ugandans. We will never exchange our dignity with money from abroad,” Mr Bahati said on Wednesday.

The legislator said some development partners from the United Kingdom, America and Swedish government have put pressure on the government to withdraw the bill but the country will not compromise with its values.

“As per now, we think all the clauses are necessary in order to combat the evil of homosexuality but we will remain committed to ensure we have a peaceful legislation,” he said.

Police now using press to track Gays

In a new twist in the situation of same sex couples in Uganda, the police is now employing the press to publish homosexuals' names in newspapers as being wanted by police for practicing homosexuality.
on 10th November 2009, The Daily Monitor published names belonging to two females purpotedly wanted by the police for being homosexuals.
on 17th November 2009, the same newspaper again published two more names of two males claiming they are wanted by police not only for being homosexual but also funding homosexual activities.
This is a worrying development which Icebreakers Uganda condemns in the strongest terms possible.


[Public Dialogue November 18, 2009, Makerere University]

I would like to thank the Human Rights and Peace Centre for inviting me here this afternoon to share my views on this bill. It is great that HURIPEC organized this to be a dialogue and not a debate because debates have a tendency to polarize and divide along irrational gut-level responses. A dialogue, on the other hand, usefully sets the stage for people to listen to each other with understanding, tolerance and helps build bridges. I hope that this public dialogue will mark the first stepping stone for all of us to embark on a rewarding journey of mutual respect, simple decency and fairness.

Mr. Chairperson—
My brief talk this afternoon is divided into four sections:
i. First, I will address issues of mutual concern that I share with Hon. Bahati;
ii. Secondly, I will open the window of history and offer us a glimpse of the politics of hatred and discrimination that has affected the struggle for human rights over the years;
iii. Third, I will highlight the social meaning of the bill; and
iv. Finally, I shall put on my legal hat and outline the legal implications that this bill holds for our country if passed into law.

I. Common Issues of Concern
I have scrutinized the bill thoroughly and the Honourable Member of Parliament David Bahati will be surprised to learn that I share some of his convictions. For example, Hon. Bahati I share your desires as expressed in the preamble to the bill:

1. To strengthen the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the family unit. It is nevertheless important to point out that most of these can hardly be realized through the regulatory mechanism of the law.
2. To protect the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, particularly the positive aspects of it.
3. To protect Ugandan children and youth who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation—whether the abuse is hetero and homosexual.

I do not have the time and space this afternoon to engage in a detailed sociological discussion of the concept that the bill refers to as the “Traditional African Family.” However, it is my humble opinion that the concept needs to be unpacked and scrutinized. Mr. Chairperson as you very well know, Africa is a vast continent with an extremely rich and diverse cultural history. Indeed it would be next to impossible to mark a particular institution as the one and only “Traditional African Family”.

I will cite just a few examples to demonstrate that matrimonial relations among various African communities have differed a great deal:-
a) While marriage between first cousins was traditionally taboo among the Baganda, marriages among blood-related kin were considered the best unions among the Bahima here in Uganda;
b) There is the phenomenon of chigadzamapfihwa where the family of a barren wife among the Ndaus of Zimbabwe would ‘donate’ her brother’s daughter to her husband to become a co-wife and bear children on behalf of the barren woman;
c) Practices of non-sexual woman-to-woman marriages among various African customs e.g., the Nandi and Kisii of Kenya, the Igbo of Nigeria, the Nuer of Sudan and the Kuria of Tanzania for purposes of coping with various reproductive, social and economic problems; and
d) Levirate marriages where a man inherits his dead brother’s wife were a customary requirement in many African communities.

While these may have been cultural practices at some point in our history, it is also important to recognize that family institutions all over the world are undergoing rapid transformation. The changes that we see in this basic unit of society are the result of many factors including, economic crises, an increasing number of working mothers, technological advancements, armed conflicts, natural disasters, globalization, migration, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, etc. Many of these changes and indeed the evolution of culture cannot be halted, certainly not through law.

Perhaps the undisputed value that is a common denominator in all traditional institutions of the family in Africa is the group solidarity that we have embedded in our extended family networks. Unfortunately, the support, stability, love and respect that were the hallmark of this family model are rapidly being eroded and will soon become history.

Thus, while I agree with you Hon. Bahati that we must seek ways of dealing with issues that threaten our families, I do not agree that homosexuality is one of those issues. Mr. Chairperson, Ladies and gentlemen, what issues currently threaten our families here in Uganda? I will name a few:
a) Blood thirsty Ugandans and traditional healers that believe that their good fortune will multiply through rituals of child sacrifice.
b) Rapists and child molesters who pounce on unsuspecting family members. Research undertaken by the NGO, Hope after Rape (HAR) shows that over 50% of child sexual abuse reports involve children below 10 years of age, and the perpetrators are heterosexual men who are known to the victims.
c) Sexual predators that breach the trust placed in them as fathers, teachers, religious leaders, doctors, uncles and sexually exploit young girls and boys. A 2005 report by Raising Voices and Save the Children revealed that 90% of Ugandan children experienced domestic violence and defilement.
d) Abusive partners who engage in domestic violence whether physical, sexual or emotional. The 2006 national study on Domestic Violence by the Law Reform Commission confirmed the DV was pervasive in our communities. 66% of people in all regions of Uganda reported that DV occurred in their homes and the majority of the perpetrators were “male heads of households.” The Uganda Demographic Health Survey of 2006 put the figure slightly higher at 68%.
e) Parents who force their 14-year old daughters to get married in exchange for bride price and marriage gifts.
f) A whole generation of children who were either born and bred in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps or abducted by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in the northern sub-region of Kitgum, Gulu and Pader districts.
g) The millions of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The Uganda Aids Commission puts the cumulative number of orphans due to AIDS at 2 million.
h) The all powerful patriarchs that demand total submission and rule their households with an iron hand.
i) Rising poverty levels and growing food insecurity which lead to hunger, disease, suffering and undignified living. Figures from the latest report from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics show that over 60% of Ugandans living in rural areas live below the poverty line.

I do not see how two people who are in a loving relationship and harming no one pose a threat to the family simply because they happen to be of the same sex. The argument that homosexuality is a threat to the continuity of humankind and that it will lead to the extinction of human beings in the world simply does not hold water because there are too many heterosexuals in the world for that to become a reality. How many of you in this room would “convert” to homosexuality any time soon?... So, just as the priests, nuns and monks who are sworn to a life of celibacy will not cause the extinction of humanity, homosexuals will not either.

II. Lessons from History
Anyone who cares to read history books knows very well that in times of crisis, when people at the locus of power are feeling vulnerable and their power is being threatened, they will turn against the weaker groups in society. They will pick out a weak voiceless group on whom to heap blame for all society’s troubles—refugees, displaced populations, stateless persons aka illegal immigrants, minorities with no status, children, the poor, the homeless, commercial sex workers, etc. I will offer a few examples to illustrate this point:
 In Uganda, colonialists at various times blamed traditional chiefs and elders as well as Muslims as the main impediments to progress and civilization.
 Dictator Idi Amin blamed Asians for Uganda’s dire economic problems and expelled all Indians in the early 1970s.
 When Milton Obote’s political power was threatened during his second regime in the early 1980s he embarked on a deliberate campaign of hostility towards refugees in Uganda, particularly those of Rwandese extract. Obote’s persecution of the Banyarwanda in Uganda and the whipping up of anti-Rwandese sentiments included the constant reference to his political opponent, Yoweri Museveni as a “foreigner from Rwanda.”
 In the 20 years that northern Uganda faced armed conflict, the NRM administration pointed fingers at Kony and the LRA was blamed for all the atrocities and suffering of the people in the north.
 The transmission of HIV/AIDS at various points in our history has been blamed on different “weak” constituents including commercial sex workers, truck drivers, young women aged 15-23, and mothers to babies.
 When native South Africans faced dire economic crisis they turned against black “foreigners”, blaming them for the high unemployment rates and sparking off brutal xenophobic attacks against helpless immigrants/migrants and refugees in May 2008.

The lesson drawn from these chapters in our recent history is that today it is homosexuals under attack; tomorrow it will be another exaggerated minority.

Homosexuality has troubled people for a very long time. Some religions find it distressing and there are many debates around it. Mr. Chairperson and distinguished participants where did the idea of destroying homosexuality come from? As his excellency President Museveni pointed out at the inaugural Young Achievers Awards Ceremony last weekend, homosexuals existed prior to the coming of Europeans to Uganda. According to the President: “They were not persecuted but were not encouraged either” (Daily Monitor Nov 16, 2009 at p.2). The idea of destroying homosexuality came from colonialists. In other words, homosexuality was not introduced to Africa from Europe as many would want us to believe. Rather, Europe imported legalized homophobia to Africa.

Homosexuality was introduced as an offence in Uganda directly through laws that were imported from Britain during colonialism. And what did these same colonialists think of the “African traditional family” in Uganda? They certainly did not introduce sodomy laws in order to protect the traditional African family. In fact they believed that the traditional African family was inferior to their nuclear monogamous one and considered the former barbarous and ‘repugnant to good conscience and morality.’ This colonial attitude was well exemplified in the infamous 1917 case of R. v. Amkeyo, in which Justice Hamilton dismissed customary marriages as mere ‘wife purchase.’

Today, with all the economic, social and political crises facing Uganda, homosexuals present a convenient group to point fingers at as the “biggest threat” or the “real problem” to society. Mr. Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, the re-criminalisation of homosexuality is meant to distract the attention of Ugandans from the real issues that harm us. It conveniently diverts the attention of the millions of Ugandans who have been walking the streets for years with their college certificates and no jobs on offer. Ladies and gentlemen, homosexuals have nothing to do with the hundreds of thousands of families that sleep without a meal or the millions of children who die unnecessarily every day from preventable or treatable diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, measles, pneumonia, etc. Homosexuals are not the ones responsible for the lack of drugs and supplies at primary health care centres.

III. The Social Implications of the Bill to the Average Ugandan
You may think that this bill targets only homosexual individuals. However, homosexuality is defined in such a broad fashion as to include “touching another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” This is a provision highly prone to abuse and puts all citizens (both hetero and homosexuals) at great risk. Such a provision would make it very easy for a person to witch-hunt or bring false accusations against their enemies simply to “destroy” their reputations and cause scandal. We all have not forgotten what happened to Pastor Kayanja and other men of God in the recent past.

Moreover, the bill imposes a stiff fine and term of imprisonment for up to three years for any person in authority over a homosexual who fails to report the offender within 24 hours of acquiring such knowledge. Hence the bill requires family members to “spy” on one another. This provision obviously does not strengthen the family unit in the manner that Hon. Bahati claims his bill wants to do, but rather promotes the breaking up of the family. This provision further threatens relationships beyond family members. What do I mean? If a gay person talks to his priest or his doctor in confidence, seeking advice, the bill requires that such person breaches their trust and confidentiality with the gay individual and immediately hands them over to the police within 24 hours. Failure to do so draws the risk of arrest to themselves. Or a mother who is trying to come to terms with her child’s sexual orientation may be dragged to police cells for not turning in her child to the authorities. The same fate would befall teachers, priests, local councilors, counselors, doctors, landlords, elders, employers, MPs, lawyers, etc.

Furthermore, if your job is in any way related to human rights activism, advocacy, education and training, research, capacity building, and related issues this bill should be a cause for serious alarm. In a very undemocratic and unconstitutional fashion, the bill seeks to silence human rights activists, academics, students, donors and non-governmental organizations. If passed into law it will stifle the space of civil society. The bill also undermines the pivotal role of the media to report freely on any issue. The point I am trying to make is that we are all potential victims of this draconian bill.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us many years ago, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.” Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights instructs us: “All Human Beings are Born Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights.” Many great people that we respect and admire have spoken out for the rights of homosexuals. These include international award winners and champions of freedom and humanity—President Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Barack Obama. Just yesterday, it was reported that former president of Botswana, Festus Mogae added his voice to those who have come out in opposition to the Bahati Bill (Daily Monitor, November 17, 2009 at p.10).
We must remember that the principal message at the heart of all religions is one of LOVE (And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love- 1 Corinthians 13: 13). All religions teach the virtues of tolerance and urge their followers to desist from passing judgment. Ladies and gentlemen, this bill promotes hatred, intolerance, superiority and violence. Even if you believe that homosexuality is a sin, this bill is not the best method to address the issue. It is valid to have religious and spiritual anxieties but our jurisprudence has a long history of separating the institutions of religion from the law. The law, Mr. Chairperson, does not seek to ally any legal principle with a particular religion. Mr. Stephen Langa is free to deliver his lectures on morality but it is unacceptable to reduce what his is preaching into law. In my final submission I want to turn to a legal analysis of this bill.

IV. The Legal Implications of the Bill
Mr. Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, the Anti-Homosexuality bill has a total of 18 clauses. 12 of these 18 clauses (i.e., 67%) are not new at all as they simply replicate what we already have on our law books. So the first point I want to highlight is that Parliament has been given a bill two-thirds of whose content duplicates existing laws.

So, let us examine the content of the remaining 6 clauses that introduce new legal provisions.

• Clauses 6 provides for the recognition of the right to privacy and confidentiality for the victim of homosexual assaults. This is a procedural issue that no one can dispute and it can easily be inserted in the Penal Code provisions that criminalize rape and aggravated defilement.

Nevertheless, the remaining 5 clauses are extremely problematic from a legal point of view. They violate Uganda’s constitution and many other regional and international instruments that Uganda has ratified.

• The interpretation section (Clause 1) replicates several definitions that are provided for elsewhere. Its novel provisions lie in the attempt to define homosexuality and its related activities. I have already alluded to the potential danger that Ugandans face in the threatening and broad fashion that the bill defines a “homosexual act.”

• Clause 13 which attempts to outlaw the “Promotion of Homosexuality” is very problematic as it introduces widespread censorship and undermines fundamental freedoms such as the rights to free speech, expression, association and assembly. Under this provision an unscrupulous person aspiring to unseat a member of parliament can easily send the incumbent MP unsolicited material via e-mail or text messaging, implicating the latter as one “promoting homosexuality.” After being framed in that way, it will be very difficult for the victim to shake free of the “stigma.” Secondly, by criminalizing the “funding and sponsoring of homosexuality and related activities,” the bill deals a major blow to Uganda’s public health policies and efforts. Take for example, the Most At Risk Populations’ Initiative (MARPI) introduced by the Ministry of Health in 2008, which targets specific populations in a comprehensive manner to curb the HIV/AIDS scourge. If this bill becomes law, health practitioners as well as those that have put money into this exemplary initiative will automatically be liable to imprisonment for seven years! The clause further undermines civil society activities by threatening the fundamental rights of NGOs and the use of intimidating tactics to shackle their directors and managers.

• Clause 14 introduces the crime of “Failure to Disclose the Offence” of homosexuality. As I have noted above, under this provision any person in authority is obliged to report a homosexual to the relevant authorities within 24 hours of acquiring such knowledge. Not only does this infringe on the right to privacy but it is practically unenforceable. It dangerously opens up room for potential abuse, blackmail, witch-hunting, etc. Do we really want to move sexual acts between consenting adults into the public realm?
• Clause 16 relates to extra-territorial jurisdiction, and basically confers authority on Ugandan law enforcers to arrest and charge a Ugandan citizen or permanent resident who engages in homosexual activities outside the borders of Uganda. This law enforcement model is normally used in international crimes such as money laundering, terrorism, etc. The Ugandan Penal Code already provides for crimes that call for extra-territoriality. All these touch on the security of the state e.g., treason, terrorism and war mongering (see S.4 of the PCA).
When it comes to offences committed partly within and partly outside Uganda, the Penal Code provides:
When an act which, if wholly done within the jurisdiction of the court, would be an offence against this Code is done partly within and partly beyond the jurisdiction, every person who within the jurisdiction does or makes any part of such act may be tried and punished under this Code in the same manner as if such act had been done wholly within the jurisdiction. [Section 5—Emphasis added]

Note that clause16 of the Bill employs the disjunctive “or” which gives it wider reach than S.5 of the Penal Code that uses the conjunctive “and”. Therefore, what the Bill proposes to do is to elevate homosexual acts to a position of such importance that they appear to be at an even higher plane than murder, rape or grievous bodily harm for which no such provision is made. It is difficult to see any rational basis for such inordinate attention to homosexuality. And how exactly will they enforce this provision? Is the government going to storm the bedrooms of consenting adults, or deploy spies to follow them when they travel abroad in order to establish who they have slept with and how they did it? Does this include heterosexual couples that engage in anal sex? What about our constitutional right to privacy? In short, this provision of the Bill is a gross abuse of the principle of extra-territoriality. But more importantly, the bill carries hidden venom that is bound to spread beyond persons that engage in homosexuality.

• Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this bill is Clause 18, which requires Uganda to opt out of any international treaty that we have previously ratified that goes against the spirit of the bill. Article 287 of the Constitution obliges Uganda to fully subscribe to all its international treaties obligations ratified prior to the passing of the 2005 constitution. We cannot legislate or simply wish these obligations away. Indeed, international law prohibits us from doing such a thing. Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties clearly sets out the pacta sunt servanda rule which requires that “Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.”
Article 123 (1), a provision deliberately placed in Chapter Seven of the Constitution (dealing with the powers of the Executive) says:
The President or a person authorised by the President may make treaties, conventions, agreements, or other arrangements between Uganda and any other country or between Uganda and any international organisation or body, in respect of any matter.
This is a wide power that can only be limited by express language under the Constitution itself. A major procedural limitation is found in the next clause of the same article, which provides:
Parliament shall make laws to govern ratification of treaties, conventions, agreements or other arrangements made under clause (1) of this article. (Art. 123.2)
Another substantive limitation is to be found in the Bill of Rights found in Chapter 4. In effect, the President cannot by the mechanism of Article 123(1) sign treaties whose effect would be to amend the Constitution. Indeed, any such treaty would be, as a matter of municipal law, null and void to the extent of such inconsistency, in terms of Article 2 (2) of the Constitution.
Parliament therefore has only a procedural role to incorporate treaties into Ugandan law – and that is the full extent of its powers. It cannot purport to proscribe ex ante (before the fact) the limit of the President’s treaty making powers. Nor indeed, can parliament bind its own future action by purporting to exercise in advance its power to scrutinize treaties signed by the President and determine which of them to ratify. All that Parliament can do is to either ratify or refuse to ratify a treaty after it is signed, and in the latter case such treaty does not become part of Ugandan law. This is the balance of executive power and democratic input achieved by Article 123, and one that clause 18 of the Bill is incompetent to amend.

Mr. Chairperson, distinguished participants, I wish to end by appealing to members of parliament and all Ugandans that believe in human rights and the dignity of all human beings to reject the Anti-homosexuality bill. I am imploring Hon. Bahati to withdraw his private members bill. Do we really in our hearts of hearts want our country to be the first on the continent to demand that mothers spy on their children, that teachers refuse to talk about what is, after all, “out there” and that our gay and lesbian citizens are systematically and legally terrorized into suicide? Ladies and gentlemen, you may strongly disagree with the phenomenon of same-sex erotics; you may be repulsed by what you imagine homosexuals do behind their bedroom doors; you may think that all homosexuals deserve to burn in hell. However, it is quite clear that this Bill will cause more problems around the issue of homosexuality than it will solve. I suggest that Hon. Bahati’s bill be quietly forgotten. It is no more or less than an embarrassment to our intelligence, our sense of justice and our hearts.

Thank you for your attention.

Response after the Q & A Session
Mr. Chairperson, in the interest of time I will respond to only three issues:
• “Mad people” “like bats seeing the world upside down” “animals” “wicked”… These are some of the words used to describe homosexuals by the audience. All the heckling and vicious jeering… Mr. Bahati you commenced your talk this afternoon by saying, “We are not in the hate campaign.” Well, if you were in any doubt about the fact that your bill is whipping up hatred and violence against homosexuals, just reflect back on the discourse that transpired in the room this afternoon.

• Secondly, Mr. Chairperson I think it is the height of paternalism and arrogance for Hon. Bahati and Mr. Langa to stand here and say they are legislating against homosexuals because they love them, they feel sorry for them, they face the risk of cancer, their lives are reduced by 20 years, etc. Homosexuals are not asking for your pity, love, approval or redemption. They only want you to affirm their humanness and their right to exist and be different.

• Finally, Mr. Chairperson, Hon. Bahati asked the question, “Tamale, do you support homosexuality?” I would like to tell Hon. Bahati that I am a simple woman that recognizes all human beings as worthy of dignity and rights and I am not obsessed with how people have sex in the privacy of their bedrooms. I support the rights of all human beings regardless of how and with whom they have sex as long as they are adults and are not harming anyone. So, the question should not be whether I support homosexuality, or heterosexuality for that matter.

Thank you very much Mr. Chairperson

Ex-African Presidents Challenge Museveni


Festus G. Mogae
Telephone: + 267-3914071/3914082 Fax: + 267-3914097
Plot No. 115, Unit 4 Millenium Park Kgale Mews GABORONE

October 30, 2009


His Excellency, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni President of the Republic of Uganda
State House Nakasero
P.O. Box 24594
Kampala, Uganda

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the Champions for an HIV -Free Generation, I send you warmest greetings and best wishes.

We, the Champions for an HlV-Free Generation, are on a mission to exchange ideas and encourage stronger and more visionary leadership in response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Sub Saharan Africa. Our mandate is to promote key policy, legal, cultural and behavioral practices, as well as messages that help accelerate the social outcomes needed to achieve an HIV-free generation.

The first is a draft Bill, the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009,” recently introduced by a private member’s motion in the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda. Among the most disturbing provisions of the bill are: Incarceration for any person convicted of ”homosexuality”; a sentencing of death for anyone with HIV convicted of ”aggravated homosexuality”; incarceration for “promotion of homosexuality”; criminal penalties that apply to citizens and permanent residents living outside of Uganda; and declaring null and void any “international legal instrument whose provisions are contradictory to the spirit and provisions enshrined in this Act:”

The second Bill that has come to our attention is the draft “‘HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill,” currently under debate in the Uganda Law Reform Commission. Many positive aspects of the bill exist, including provisions against discrimination of people with HIV and AIDS in schools and at places of work. However, one provision of the Bill stipulates incarceration for offenses related to the “breach of safe practices of HIV prevention.”

Your Excellency, we respectfully express our concern at the provisions referenced in these two Bills and fear that passage of such legislation, which deviates from international best practice and recommendations, could lead to increased stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS and the groups most vulnerable to the epidemic.

The 2001 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) Declaration of Commitment on HIV and AIDS, adopted by all UN Member Stares, emphasized the importance of addressing the needs of those “at the greatest risk of, and most vulnerable to, new infection as indicated by such factors as … sexual practices.” At the 2006 High Level Meeting on AIDS, the Member States reiterated their commitment underlying the need for “full and active participation of vulnerable groups … and to eliminate all forms of discrimination against them … while respecting their privacy and confidentiality.” Furthermore, assessments conducted by UNAIDS for the General Assembly have confirmed that stigma, discrimination and criminalization faced by men who have sex with men are major barriers to the movement for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

UNAIDS has recommended that governments respect, protect and fulfill the rights of men who have sex with men and address stigma and discrimination in society and in the workplace by amending laws prohibiting sexual acts between consenting adults in private, enforcing anti-discrimination, and promoting programmes for men who have sex with men who may be especially vulnerable to HIV infection.

With respect to the “HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill”, UNAIDS and other international best practices recommend against HIV -specific criminal laws, laws directly mandating disclosure of HIV status, and other laws which are counterproductive to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support efforts, or which violate the human rights of people living with HIV. Inappropriate or overly­ broad application of criminal law to HIV transmission creates a real risk of increasing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV, thus driving them further away from HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.

Your Excellency, the Champions for an HIV-Free Generation believe that positive action by both government and individual leaders of stature, like yourself, can help create environments that promote HIV prevention efforts and behaviour change. We humbly ask that you take action to halt the harmful provisions in the draft Bills cited in this letter, and by doing so, preserve the rights of all Ugandans.

Yours Sincerely

Mr. Festus G. Mogae

Chairman of the Champions for an HIV-Free Generation and Former President of the Republic of Botswana

Copied To:
(a) The Champions: Their Excellencies: Kenneth Kaunda, Joaquim Chissano and Benjamin Mkapa; His Grace, Desmond Tutu; Dr. Speciosa Wandira; Justice Edwin Cameron; Prof. Miriam Were and Ms. Liya Kebede

(b) Chairman, Uganda Law Reform Commission

A new law against homosexuality in Uganda could set a nasty trend

Uganda and homosexuality

Don’t ask
Nov 12th 2009 | KAMPALA
From The Economist print edition


Hurrah for homophobia!
VISITORS to Uganda have rarely been starved of sex if they have wanted it. But there are limitations. The country’s mix of vigorous heterosexuality and religiosity have made it one of Africa’s more homophobic places. Now, say advocates of sexual freedom, a proposed new law against homosexuals will push Uganda back into a grim kind of Victorian age, Africa-style.

Fine, say members of Uganda’s parliament, who believe they are leading a global battle to defend the traditional family. Foreign embassies, they reckon, are unduly pro-gay; the UN is alleged to be “smuggling” in “agents of immorality”. “Carnal knowledge against the order of nature”, as one MP put it, is imported by corrupt white men and women.

Uganda’s handful of brave homosexual campaigners beg to differ. Some say there are 500,000 gays among the country’s population of 33m. That is impossible to verify. What is clear is that homosexuals are often isolated, discriminated against at work and in AIDS treatment clinics, and sometimes even lynched.

Despite the grumbling of human-rights groups, Parliament is likely to pass the law with the overwhelming support of Ugandans. It will probably be stripped of its more controversial bits, such as the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and the prosecution of Ugandans who engage in homosexual sex abroad. Even so, talking about homosexuality in public will be punishable with prison. Spying and sneaking on homosexuals will be encouraged. Failure to report instances of anal sex, whether between gay or straight people, could become a criminal offence too.

Uganda could even set a trend for other African countries, most of which retain colonial laws against sodomy. Some Africans had hoped rapid urbanisation, together with South Africa’s recognition of same-sex marriage, would lead to greater acceptance of homosexuality in sub-Saharan Africa. But the influence of Christian evangelicals, especially from America, matched by their counterparts from Muslim countries, may have had the opposite effect.

Homosexuality fascinates many Africans as much as it repels. The recent marriage of two Kenyan men in London was headline news back home. So for the time being gay life in Africa is one of survival, with richer gays often emigrating to more tolerant climes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

God does not teach death for gay people

It is very wrong to base one’s arguments against gays on statements like “unAfrican” and “unnatural” and then discriminate against them on the basis of their sexual orientation. It is even more wrong to condemn them to death as if they were bedbugs.

I have no time for gays and believe the perversion can be fought with the right methods. Social exclusion and absolute use of force leading to the discrimination and murder of gays is not the right way to go. It is against international human rights standards, a standard Uganda will be judged by.

The worst thing is for a Christian or some other religious person to support the Anti-Gay Bill based on religious grounds or “morality.” There is absolutely no basis whatsoever to bring religion into politics because the only tangible benefit religion offers Africans today is love and hope.

If you think your God agrees to making gays a target for persecution and execution, then I can also subjectively bring out a quote from His lovely writings that says gays should be given extra love, forgiveness and kindness. Please do not use God’s great name to promote discrimination, state persecution and execution of human beings.

Sajio Kassana,

Bahati: Don’t usurp God’s power

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 19:31
By Andrew M. Mwenda

Andrew M. Mwenda
Member of Parliament for Ndorwa East David Bahati wants homosexuals imprisoned for life or hanged. I am deeply conscious of the fact that the vast majority of Ugandans support him. But debate on homosexuality is being conducted largely out of ignorance and prejudice. For example, a friend told me recently: “I think all homos must be killed. My strong Christian values prohibit me from tolerating this evil.”
But was his anger generated by his Christian beliefs? Or was he using religion to service his prejudice? All sins – murder, theft, envy etc are equal before God. If sins were rated, homosexuality should even be a lesser evil since God did not take it seriously enough to include it among the Ten Commandments. My friend takes pride in “laying” girls. When I asked him why his Christian faith does not stop him from fornication, he went silent.
Although it’s using religion to justify its campaign, the anti-homosexual coalition in Uganda is not using God but the state to promulgate draconian laws. God did not bestow judgment of sin on humankind. He kept it as his preserve, possibly knowing that humans would abuse it. The state should not be used to enforce God’s will. Nor should Martin Sempa and Nsaba Buturo constitute themselves into a religious police to enforce it.
Besides, there are many Christians who do not believe that the Bible prohibits homosexuality. This is because Christianity, like all other religions and cultures, is subject to different interpretations. These differences cannot be settled by human beings. The Supreme Court of religion is God. It is therefore wrong to pass legislation based on one interpretation of one religion’s values and impose them on others. This takes away the rights of non-believers or people of different religious interpretation.
Many oppose homosexuality because it undermines procreation, a legitimate point. But there are many heterosexual couples who choose not to have children. The Pope and the entire hierarchy of the Catholic Church is celibate. There are many women who are sterile and men who are impotent. There are millions of birth control programmes in the world. All this has not caused the extinction of humanity.
Currently, the law in Uganda makes it a crime to have “carnal knowledge of someone against the order of nature.” Although it was meant to prohibit homosexuality, it inadvertently prohibits oral sex. Of course this is because those who made the law relied on a very conservative understanding of how sex is enjoyed.
Enjoying sex is a very complex subject that cannot be reduced to simplistic and traditional moralising. It would therefore be dangerous for the state to visit people’s bedrooms every night to ensure that sex is enjoyed only through the legislated style. For example, should the government investigate whether Bahati performs oral sex or whether Buturo masturbates? To do this would put us on a slippery slope.
In both biblical teachings and in evolutionary science, procreation is the driver of life. Therefore, I appreciate why many societies have traditionally been hostile to homosexuality. The existence of species depends on reproduction. Every evolutionary biologist will tell you that species that had high survival abilities but poor reproductive capacity became extinct. So it is reproduction that keeps us replenished.
But this also poses a vital evolutionary puzzle. If homosexuality threatens life, evolution would have biologically, socially and psychologically eliminated it. Homosexuals would cause their own extinction since they would be unable to pass on their gene. Research shows that every human society has homosexuals to the tune of 5% to 10% of the population. Homosexuality is also found in 537 species of vertebrate mammals.
So homosexuality is as old as life. From ancient Greece to the Roman Empire, homosexuality has been recurrent. How can something that threatens life survive for this long? Aristotle thought it evolved to check over- population. Modern evolutionary psychologists and biologists have developed several theories to explain it. But the debate and research continues. The good news is that there are enough heterosexuals who want to have children to sustain life.
While human rights organisations have been fixated on the state, the biggest threat to homosexuals is actually society since over 90% of our population is hostile to them. It is therefore in challenging deeply held cultural beliefs that homosexuals can find liberation. Liberal philosophy evolved to reject two evils – the despotism of the state and the tyranny of custom. The worst injustices are sustained through culture, not law.
Black people in America were kept as slaves for 200 years and as second class citizens for another 100 years. They won the right to vote as recently as 1965, five years after most of Africa was free. This injustice was sustained through Christian teachings, culture and science that projected black people as sub-human.
Thus, it was criminal for a white person (a human being) to have sex with a black person (an animal). By 1961 when Barack Obama was born, 32 out of the 50 states in America still criminalised inter-racial sex. Many whites supported this injustice, not because they were bad people, but because culture and religion had taught them do so.
Although many whites opposed this injustice, they did not constitute a politically weighted majority to effect change. Those who could make a difference like John Kennedy were afraid to openly challenge the status quo. Uganda needs courageous people to challenge injustices against homosexuals perpetuated through culture and religion.
In writing this article, I am aware that I am swimming against the tide. But I feel strongly that keeping silent in the face of injustice, especially one promoted through culture, is a worse option. I understand that well intentioned people like Bahati can promote extreme injustices because of the influence of culture and tradition.
I write this article in honour of those white people – the abolitionists – who, against the ridicule and harassment of their peers and at great personal risk opposed slavery and discrimination against black people. It pains me that black people who have been victims of discrimination due to cultural stereotyping are the ones most virulently hostile to homosexuals. The chains of culture can be tough.

Museveni warns against homosexuality

Emmanuel Gyezaho

President Museveni has joined the anti-gay crusade, saying he had received reports suggesting that “European homosexuals” had launched a recruitment drive in Africa.

He urged the youth to reject the advances. Expressing his homophobia, Mr Museveni said the youth must stand firm and abhor the divergent sexual orientation.

“I hear European homosexuals are recruiting in Africa,” said Mr Museveni on Saturday, to an audience of mainly youth at the Kampala Serena Hotel that homosexuality is un-natural.

“We used to have very few homosexuals traditionally. They were not persecuted but were not encouraged either because it was clear that is not how God arranged things to be.”

The NRM leader was speaking at the inaugural Young Achievers Awards ceremony, an event organised by Tetea Uganda, a private firm, to honour the country’s youth who have excelled in various disciplines.

The President’s comments follow efforts by lawmaker David Bahati (NRM, Ndorwa West) who moved a private members Bill last month—The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, to outlaw homosexuality in the country.
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.

Taboo subject
Homosexuality remains a taboo subject in many African societies and if passed in its current state, the Anti Homosexuality Bill, condemned by rights groups, would make Uganda one of the most dangerous places for gay people.

“You should discourage your colleagues [involved in homosexuality] because God was not foolish to do the way he arranged,” said Mr Museveni, adding, “Mr and Mrs, but now you have to say Mr and Mr? What is that now?”

The President’s comments will enrage Uganda’s gay community which has strongly protested the new Bill, and will put Mr Museveni’s regime on a collision path with several of Uganda’s critical donors who are strong proponents of homosexuality and the ideals of civil liberties.
Rights advocates have said the government’s stance on homosexuality is illegal, not to mention an outrage.

Mr Museveni also cautioned the youth against drug abuse, and said, “If you know, tell your friend who is being tempted to smoke those drugs; counsel them. Aids and drugs are here.”

Tennis ace Duncan Mugabe, 19, scooped the overall Young Achiever of the Year award for his exploits on court, while the late Yvonne Namaganda was awarded, posthumously, a hero’s award for her heroic endeavours in saving the lives of fellow pupils at the tragic Budo Junior School inferno.

Mr Museveni was himself a beneficiary of an award, scooping the Life Time Achievement Award for what Tetea Uganda Managing Director Awel Uwihanganye said was the President’s contribution in providing an “enabling environment” for Uganda’s youth to exploit their talents.

“The future of Uganda is in the hands of you young people,” Mr Museveni said. “I implore you young people to have love for your nation and embrace patriotism, discard sectarianism, tribalism and religious bigotry.”

Friday, November 13, 2009




Time: 1pm-5 pm

Venue: Faculty of Law Auditorium

Hon. David Bahati, MP Ndorwa East and Sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Assoc. Prof. Sylvia Tamale, Coordinator, Law, Gender & Sexuality Research Project, Faculty of Law.
Rev. Canon. Aaron Mwesigye, Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Uganda
Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS Activist

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Of Selective Thinkers Who said women can’t be priests?

Thursday, 12th November, 2009

EDITOR—There is a breakaway group of Anglicans who want to join the Catholic Church. Reason? Ordaining homosexuals and women in the Anglican Church.

They might have a point on homosexual priests but lumping women with homosexuals is simply unacceptable. True, all the 12 disciples of Jesus were men but then what was (is) the status of women in Palestine and the Middle East in general? This was a Jewish society which did not seem to recognise the presence of women. For example, when Jesus fed 5,000 people, the ‘people’ were only men. They did not include women and children! Secondly, we must contextualise the circumstances under which Jesus did his pastoral work. His ministry was nomadic, as it were. Surely, it would not have been reasonable to tag along with women, probably carrying children as he trekked from Capernaun to Galilee, from Jericho to Jerusalem. His first disciples were fishermen. This suggests physical stamina and not spiritual superiority. Denying women service as priests is male dominance misread from Jesus’ time. I cannot imagine a sectarian God who thinks like human beings.

Jeniffer Kaita

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

RIGHTS-UGANDA: "You Cannot Tell Me You Will Kill Me Because I’m Gay"

By Wambi Michael
David Bahati submitting his controversial anti-gay Bill to parliament. / Credit:Wambi Michael/IPS
David Bahati submitting his controversial anti-gay Bill to parliament.

Credit:Wambi Michael/IPS

KAMPALA, Nov 9 (IPS) - The Ugandan government will put to death gay citizens repeatedly caught having sex and throw into jail those who touch each other in a "gay" way, if a new proposed Bill becomes law.

A new Bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, seeks to legislate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people in Uganda. And it wants to pave the way for its harsh treatment of them by nullifying any international treaties, conventions or declarations believed to be contrary to it.

"The Bill is so inhumane ... It violates every aspect of a human being. I mean you cannot tell me you will kill me because I’m gay," says Gerald Sentogo, the gay administrator for the organisation Sexual Minorities Uganda.

The death penalty is listed as punishment under an offence called aggravated homosexuality. This part of the Bill states that "repeat offenders" of homosexuality are liable to get the death penalty. The death penalty is also applied in a homosexual relationship if a partner is under 18, or has a disability, or is HIV positive. People accused under the aggravated homosexuality clause will be forced to undergo an HIV test.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill's section on Aggravated homosexuality

A person commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality where the

(a) Person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;

(b) Offender is a person living with HIV;

(c) Offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) Offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;

(e) Victim of the offence is a person with disability;

(f) Offender is a serial offender; or

(g) Offender applies, administers or cause to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy or overpower him or her so as to thereby enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex.

A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

Source: Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009
Local and international civil society groups operating in the country fear that the Bill, once enacted, would curtail most of the civil rights guaranteed in the Ugandan constitution, and international human rights instruments and protocols.

But Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister sees the uproar surrounding the Bill as a positive sign that Uganda is "providing leadership" to the world. The minister, James Nsaba Buturo, tells IPS he is happy the Bill is causing a lot of debate globally.

"It is with joy we see that everyone is interested in what Uganda is doing, and it is an opportunity for Uganda to provide leadership where it matters most. So we are here to see a piece of legislation that will not only define what the country stands for, but actually provide leadership around the world," he says.

David Bahati, Ndorwa County West minister of parliament, tabled the Bill saying Uganda needed comprehensive legislation to prohibit any form of sexual relations between people of the same sex.

The Bill, according to Bahati, seeks to plug gaps in the Ugandan constitution, and stipulate that marriage is between a man and a woman only. Other unions will not be recognised. And if same sex couples are married abroad, they face life imprisonment.

Practising homosexuality has been illegal in Uganda and is listed in the penal code, though police say it is hard to investigate this crime because "homosexuals operate under cover".

But the new Bill now forces people in authority to report offences to the police within 24 hours, or they themselves will face fines or up to three years in prison.

Anyone found guilty of committing homosexuality, or advocating homosexuality to a group or assembly, will face a prison sentence. The penalties are up to 10 years in prison or a fine not exceeding $5,500 or both.

The Bill also seeks extra territorial jurisdiction and will apply to any Ugandan involved in a LGBT relationship outside of the country. The Bill also seeks to extradite any Ugandan guilty of the offences it lists.

Sentogo says he fears that the Bill will erode the human rights culture in Uganda. He said the part of the Bill that required people to report LGBT will create widespread distrust.

"How will somebody know about my sexuality unless he comes to my bedroom? And that is dividing everybody. You will trust nobody because everyone will become a spy over the other. Imagine people fighting over other issues and somebody will say you are a homosexual to get rid of you and then you are arrested and you spend seven years in jail or life imprisonment."

Valentine Kalende, spokesperson of the Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL), tells IPS the Bill in its current form is an attack on the Ugandan constitution, and its key human rights protections.

The CHRCL, comprised of 25 national and international non-governmental organisations, says the Bill incorrectly groups together predatory sexual acts with acts between consenting adults.

"As civil society we condemn all predatory sexual acts (hetero or homosexual) that violate the rights of vulnerable sections of our society, such as minors. However, the Bill lumps "aggravated homosexuality" together with sexual acts between consenting adults, in order to whip up sentiments of fear and hatred.

"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."

Dr. Sylvia Tamale, a law lecturer at Makerere University tells IPS that the clause to withdraw from international treaties and conventions and other human protocols "is absurd because parliament has no such powers under the Ugandan constitution".

The CHRCL adds: "In reality this would involve Uganda withdrawing from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its protocols, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights." The Bill has also been condemned by international activists like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and pro-LGBT groups in the region.

Buturo accused civil society in Uganda of using the pro-homosexual campaign to solicit support from some of the country’s donors.

"We are not going to give in to any influence or pressure, whatever the quarter may be. Our view is that integrity as a nation is much more to be cherished than anything else. Not even the funding received from friends will sway our determination to do what is right. And what is right in our view is that anal sex is not something that anybody should mention as deserving creditable mention," he says.

"Many of these crimes are being committed in the name of the defence of human rights. Government rejects the blanket use of one’s rights to include protection of practices which are inimical to standards we aspire to, as well as our way of life," says Buturo.

The Bill has the support of various religious groups in Uganda, who have been battling the gay movements. Some of the leaders in the Pentecostal churches in Uganda have been accused of practising homosexuality.

Religious leaders from the Orthodox Church, Pentecostal Church and Islam, in appearing before the Parliamentary and Presidential Affairs Committee, say the law against homosexuality was timely, but they were opposed to the death penalty.

Reverend Canon Aaron Mwesigye Kafundizeki, the Church of Uganda provincial secretary, tells IPS: "It is an important law, but the provision related to the death penalty may prevent this law from being passed, because death should not be accepted as a punishment. Therefore propose another form of punishment instead of death."

Kafundizeki said pushing for extra territorial jurisdiction would be counter-productive.

"The Church of Uganda is saying we need to limit ourselves to the Ugandan territory, instead of extra territorial jurisdiction, because the Ugandan constitution is very clear on protocols and ratifications. Going beyond the borders will be counter-productive," he says.

Livingston Okello Okello, Member of Parliament in Chua County in Northern Uganda, says much as homosexuality was not allowed within his culture, he would not support the death penalty against lesbians and homosexuals.

"In Luo culture the death penalty has never been part of our practice. Because what is the intended purpose of the death penalty, apart from causing suffering to the relatives of the victim?" he asks.

Several other parliamentarians in interviews with IPS said they would support the Bill at its second reading, because the practice of homosexuality had never been accepted in most of the communities and constituencies they represented.

The death penalty for aggravated homosexuality will be imposed especially when the offender is HIV positive. This has raised concerns among HIV/AIDS-prevention activists like the Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET).

UGANET legal adviser Dorothy Kikyonkyo, in an interview with IPS, says the laws on prostitution and homosexuals had not been a barrier to HIV/AIDS prevention among such risky groups.

"We are concerned that the punitive measures may force risky groups like homosexuals living with HIV into hiding, and this will worsen the situation, because many will not reach the needed services for treatment and prevention," she says.

A Ugandan homosexual and activist with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (who asked for anonymity) claimed that Bahati, mover of the Bill, was being funded by conservatives in the West to spread what he called hate against homosexuals in Uganda.

But Bahati denies this.

"I moved a private Member’s Bill not because I’m involved in a hate campaign, but because there are enormous threats to the traditional family values as we know them in Uganda. We don’t believe in our country that for a man to sleep with a man, and for a woman to have sexual intercourse with another woman, is a human right.

"We know that homosexuals are getting money from abroad. They are using that to influence our young people into this behaviour, and we cannot sit back and see this happen," he says.

A lesbian woman who wanted to be referred to as Santa told IPS that Bahati’s argument for family values was ludicrous. "The allegation by Bahati that they are protecting family values is just a scapegoat. I have a partner. I do not cheat. But what do heterosexuals do? Isn’t the reason we have an HIV prevention campaign now targeting married heterosexual couples in Uganda? Let them start with their own families before they interfere into other peoples issues."

Activists have asked Bahati to withdraw the Bill, saying it infringes on the freedom of expression and media freedom.

"I didn’t choose to be gay. I was brought to this world by straight parents heterosexual, who didn’t know about my fate. And now you are prosecuting me because of my sexuality that I have no control over. It is very absurd. For heaven’s sake as long as I’m not stepping on somebody’s toes how does my sexuality affect you?" Sentogo asks.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Response to The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009

Rev. (Maj. Rtd. KN) Michael Nzuki Kimindu (STM)
An affirming Anglican clergyperson of Kenya.
Regional Coordinator for Other Sheep East Africa
Ordained MCC clergy
Presently barred from Anglican Parish Leadership for being LGBT affirming.

The Need

The government of Uganda is debating a bill which if passed will have devastating consequences for sexual minorities and their parents, friends and families. The 2006 publication of Africa Bible Commentary by the Association of Evangelicals in Africa has a featured article entitled "Homosexuality" by Nigerian evangelical Bible scholar Tusufu Turaki. In his article, Turaki, by quoting others without criticism or objection, says homosexuals are worse than beasts and that Desmond Tutu's call to the churches of Africa for tolerance should be rejected.

The secular world is watching to see how the church will respond to the human condition, particularly to see if the church will give critical thought and study to sexual orientation. The Uganda bill has called forth many urgent articles by different individuals and organizations. It is my prayer that these articles will be read with a mind and heart open to the Holy Spirit, and with an understanding that this topic is more than mere academics or theology, but that this discussion has the potential to traumatize and devastate thousands, if not millions, of God's children, some of whom are, no doubt, your own brethren and sisters.

In every congregation there are Christians whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual. Because of fear of personal harm from homophobic neighbors, they sit silent in their pews, but are crying loud in their souls. And there are clergy who are gay, yet preaching against homosexuality. They are living a lie.

My Personal Understanding of Sexual Orientation

Although the question is still open, I believe sexual orientation is, like the color of one's skin, a biological given which the individual does not choose.

I believe Christ's ministry was toward the poor, the unloved, the marginalized and the vulnerable. Society does not always image the ministry of Christ. At times society has its own mind about those whom it sees as not "fitting in" (Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu). I believe we need to respond to homosexuality by heeding Micah's injunction: "Do justice, love kindness and mercy, and walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

Who are homosexuals? Certainly not people who are "worse than beasts" (Turaki, AEA). Just like heterosexuals, homosexuals "are people with an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual and/or affectionate attraction to individuals of a particular gender." Sexual orientation refers to how an individual feels as a sexual being. It is his or her self concept as a sexual being. One's sexual orientation may be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender or inter-sex. And when we talk about sexuality, it is not just about procreation, family planning, disease, violence and morality. We forget that human sexuality involves pleasure, intimacy, closeness, fun, love and a way to survive the harshness of poor economic circumstances. The church seems to have missed this point, as have those involved in the Institute of Development Studies (Policy Briefing 2006), but let me concentrate on the church.

How I view the interplay of faith and sexual orientation

When an infant or adult is baptized, the subject is "marked with the sign of the cross . . . to fight sin, the world and Satan" until life's end. Therefore, every person "marked with the sign of the cross," whatever his or her sexual orientation, is a member of Christ's church and is enlisted for service. The Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 and 20 is inclusive. People from all nations are to be made disciples. And no distinction is to be made on account of how one is created. We are told to pray for laborers because the harvest is plentiful. While it is for God only to choose the laborers, sadly, unless one is heterosexual, he or she is bared from the church as a nobody, unfit for service. Yet, the person they bar is part of the harvest. Thankfully, not all have rejected sexual minorities. There are clergy and priests, Bishops and Primates who do affirm, welcome and openly minister to homosexuals.

Once the Greater Light comes, there is always a change of heart

Jesus himself declared that he had "other sheep" outside of his flock. They are to be brought in as well. In every age in the history of the church, groups and individuals have been excluded from ministry. Today, it is the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) family that is being excluded. But, as in the past, once the Greater Light comes, there is always a change of heart. One has only to recall slavery, colonialism, women and their quest for ordination. So then, homosexuals should be accepted as part of the saved of God. They should openly be priests, bishops, apostles, and archbishops.

The need for, and a call to, education

Many are the parents who go home from church Sunday after Sunday without answers to questions raised in hate sermons. They wish to know what causes homosexuality. They want to know what sexual orientation is. They want to know if a homosexual can change. They want to know if they, the parents, are to blame. What is the cause? Their pain is great. No one is answering their questions. They want to know how you can know if someone is a homosexual? What do you do if a member in your family is a homosexual? They wish to get answers from their church leaders, but they live in fear of the church.

The African Church leaders must realize that the time has come for the church to educate itself, for the Bible and tradition to be reexamined, for reason and experience to be applied, for gay Christians to be included in the life of the church, and for same-sex unions to be blessed. Unfortunately, instead of giving itself to study, the Church in Africa is in denial, and is ignorant, bigot and homophobic.

The Church - in its aim to be educated and to educate - must look for people who have overcome their own prejudices, embarrassments, fundamentalism and conservatism; people who believe in God, that sex is sacred and should be safe, and that caring for each other is important. Unfortunately, where either clergy or laity of this caliber has spoken, the African Church leaders have ignored them. No denomination in Africa, to my knowledge, has ever placed the issue before their parishioners for discussion (RSA is an exception). Most of the parishioners, like the leaders themselves, do not have a working knowledge of what is being challenged. Some of the church leaders have not made up their own minds, yet we expect leadership from them. I would like to ask: Has the church become the Bishops' church? Where is the voice of the clergy and laity? Who will be the voice for the voiceless?

What Africa could learn from the West

In the West, some conservatives, along with their liberal counterparts, agree that there needs to be an appreciative visibility of homosexuals, that research and studies on homosexuality should be done, that homosexuality is not a sickness, that it is not a behavior acquired from peers, that it is natural, that open homosexuals can be ordained, that same-sex marriage should be supported. In Africa, in utter contrast to the West, the Archbishops and the Bishops and by extension the clergy and laity are in utter darkness when it comes to research and studies on homosexuality. Their stand is: (1) there are no homosexuals in Africa, (2) homosexuality is a sickness (say some), (3) it is a behavior needing modification, (4) it is unnatural, (5) homosexuals should not be ordained in the church, (6) same-sex unions and/or marriage should not be permitted.

African church leaders, I believe, are not able to comprehend the significance of the ground already covered by the church in the West in its research and studies on homosexuality. No wonder African Anglicans boycotted the 2008 Lamberth Conference. Instead, they should have been there and let their voice be heard.

The three roles of the church must be experienced by all members at all levels both in the West and in Africa. These roles are: (1) prophetic (advocacy), (2) priestly (worship) and (3) pastoral (care and nurture). Certainly these roles of the church argue that we must engage in studies and in research in homosexuality.

Jesus' Affirmation of Zacchaeus

The story of Jesus' affirmation of Zacchaeus is a good example of how Christians should approach homosexuals: Walk the path they walk; know the tree they climb; publically assent to visiting with them; sit in their home and eat their food and meet their friends. Zacchaeus was a changed man. We understand he was changed by how he related to his neighbor. His height did not change; the color of his skin did not change; and his sexual orientation did not change. None of these was the problem. The problem was relationships, and because Jesus was affirming, relationships changed. This is the approach used by affirming churches in the West in ministering to homosexuals and their families.

Love the sinner, hate the sin

The evangelical African teaches us to love the homosexual but to hate his sin, and by hating his sin it is often understood to mean to hate that he is a homosexual.

Surprisingly, few, if any, of our church leaders have seen a homosexual person. The only gay person they have seen is our dear brother the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson (Anglican), and this is mostly through pictures. They have never conversed with him or with any other homosexual. Had Robinson not taken the brave step to obey the call of God to consecration, most Anglicans in Africa would still be blind to the fact that homosexuals are in all levels of church leadership.

Just like homosexuals can be found in all areas of African life - political leaders, journalists, airline pilots, taxi and bus drivers, hotel staff, military, police, public services, our house help, our spouse - so are homosexuals found in all levels of church life. They tithe, sing in our choirs, and teach our Sunday School classes and youth groups.

We love the child we baptize into the church, but prevent him from becoming Bishop when we learn he is gay. We love the child, but hate the Bishop.

The dilemma of homosexuals in Africa

In February of 2007, at the World Social Forum at Kasarani, Nairobi (Kenya), homosexuals came out to the public over the media to demand their space. As a consequence, the whole country turned against them and no church leader, to my knowledge, came to their defense. The hostility which followed makes it impossible now for homosexuals to come out for fear of stigmatization, hostility and isolation. As a result, homosexuals live in hiding ("in the closet"). Many, if not most, marry as part of their cover-up. They procreate children while maintaining a same-sex partner on the side, unknown to the wife and family and friends. Some homosexuals develop depression and become suicidal and even take their own life. Others turn to alcohol and drugs, hence destroying their lives. This is what we can expect in Uganda if religious leaders there do not allow the Holy Spirit's "small voice" of justice, mercy and honesty to prevail (Matthew 23:23).

What is the way forward?

(1) Let every denomination reconsider their stand on the subject of human sexuality and sexual orientation. Knowledge is power and the church needs it at this time.

(2) Those clergy who affirm homosexuals should not be punished, but encouraged to minister to homosexuals in particular and to the church in general.

(3) To work together ecumenically to promote the full-inclusion of LGBT people of faith within their respective faith traditions.

· To help churches to engage in listening to the questions of parents, family and friends of LGBTI people.
· To provide information and education to the church, beginning with the very basic questions of definitions: What is a lesbian, a gay person, a bisexual, etc.
· To provide information and education to the individual, family, friends and societies that promote self-acceptance and other-acceptance.

(4) To respect each other's exegetical differences while focusing on significant scriptural injunctions that we can all agree on and that will bring us together:

·"You did not choose me, no, I chose you, that you might go out and bear fruit that will last."
· "Whatever you ask in my name, the Father will do it/ give you."
· "What I command you is to love one another."

A closing prayer

God, who in Jesus chose us and sent us into all the world with this commandment: love one another, may You unite us now by your love so that we can live and work together in Africa, united in our diversities. In the name of God the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, AMEN.


Methodist Church in Kenya
Africa Inland Church
Reformed Church of East Africa
East Africa Yearly Meeting of Friends, Quakers
Association of Evangelicals in Africa
National Council of Churches of Kenya
Anglican Church of Kenya
Presbyterian Church of EA

Sources used for this Article

An article on Africa Bible Commentary by Steve Parelli
Anglican Matters, February, 2008
Institute of Development Studies, Policy Briefing, April 2006
The Blue Book: "What We Wish We Had Known" by The Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco, New York

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Crazy Ugandan Press

Homos Bribe 2 Ministers With Shs700m

- US Gov’t Vows To Cut Shs600bn In Aid Over New Anti-Gay Laws

Two government Ministers have accepted a staggering Shs700m each to go slow on opposing homosexuality, Red Pepper exclusively reveals. The Ministers, one from Central Region and another from Western Uganda, received the mouth-watering dime after pro-gay rights Bishop, Christopher Ssenyonjo linked them to gay rights groups in America. The former West Buganda Diocese Anglican Bishop was a few years ago ex-communicated from the Church for his open support for gays.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Buturo, Bahati more dangerous to Uganda than gays and lesbians (Some interesting comments)

Wednesday, 04 November 2009 13:50 Okello Lucima

The press in Uganda this week is awash with homophobic hysteria against Gays, Lesbians, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (GLBT) Ugandans. This overt and shameless discrimination against a minority population of our citizens flows from the fact homosexuality is criminalised in Uganda. As if this was not enough suppression of personal freedom and civil rights, Ndorwa West Member of Parliament (MP), David Bahati, has tabled a private member’s bill proposing a series of measures to control and punish GLBT activities in the country, including the death penalty for gays and lesbians caught living and expressing their sexuality.

This is not only cavalier violations of human rights, but a dangerous hate campaign and incitement to harm or kill members of the GLBT in Uganda. The people of Uganda, and all people of good will, must not sit and watch while this happens. The sponsors of the bill, their supporters and political leaders- inside and outside parliament- must be identified, isolated and ostracised by the entire civilised world that respect difference and diversity. Most democratising societies have laws that criminalise purveyors of hate and incitement of hatred against a person, persons or communities; and have robust bill of rights that protect citizens and minorities. Uganda should not be an exception.

However, it is not surprising that the state should be seeking such kind of personal control, to the extent of wanting to police what people do in their bedrooms, and who else they do it with and whether their partners are of the skirt or trouser wearing sorts.

First, this comes about because of the nature and character of the Ugandan state: it is a military dictatorship that shot its way to and kept itself in power by military force. What there is in terms of a fledgling parliamentary democracy is sheer gloss of veneer for the consumption of the democratic tourist. For twenty years it outlawed political parties and suppressed freedoms of association and assembly, and the press is routinely knuckled. It rules by decree, not through free and open, well-informed debate in a deliberative, democratic process. Therefore, like all autocrats, the Ugandan ruling clique is not about to deviate from the age-old practice of control and micromanagement of all the affairs of state, and particularly the censorship and directing of the thoughts and behaviour of its citizens. Control freaks love uniformity but are threatened by freedom, diversity, and difference.

The second reason why the hate campaign against GLBT is not surprising is that most of those connected to state power, for instance Nsaba Buturo & Co. are born-again, rigid, fundamentalist, revivalist Christians who bring to the public policy process and the management of state affairs, their religious bigotry that they pass off as public morality and ethics. They completely ignore the fact that although Uganda is a majority Christian nation-state, there are people of other faiths, as well as non-believers, to whom the Muslim and Christian moralities they are so quick to refer to, cannot and should not apply. In any case, the Ugandan state is separate from the Church or Mosque, and it would be prudent for public servants to refrain from using and imposing the teachings and morals of one religion on the diverse people of Uganda, with pluralities of religion, faith, spiritual and moral inclinations.

Obviously, their positions on GLBT people are directly lifted from the dispositions and teachings of their churches. We all recall the continuing controversy over ordination of gay priests and the blessing of gay marriages in the worldwide Anglican Communion which has caused a serious doctrinal and church practice schism between conservative and liberal wings of the church. It is this struggle into which the secular state is being enlisted. The democratic forces and the people of Uganda must oppose this interference, attempt to suppress our civil rights, and fuse the state with the church. The state and the public policy process must be inoculated from religious particularities. But the NRM/A dictatorship have aligned its position on GLBT practices with church conservatives who reject a more liberal interpretation of Christian doctrinal positions on homosexuality. Not only do church conservatives oppose the admission and ordination of homosexuals, but even women bishops and ministers within the communion are unacceptable. Furthermore, they insist that, marriage is only possible between a man and a woman, and for the purpose of procreation. Anything outside of this is regarded as unnatural and irredeemable sin.

Some in this debate do not even seem to be aware that with advancement in reproductive technology, you do not need to marry anybody's son or daughter in order to have children of your own. So the thought that promoting homosexuality threatens the human race is all gibberish. There is already a bustling market and brisk business in human eggs and semen, which may account for more than 1% of some country's total births. All one has to have is the ability to purchase such services. Most of this has been to help heterosexual couples who cannot have children the natural and normal way. Moreover, those who do not want their wives to go through the barbaric “natural” processes of pregnancy and childbirth can rent a womb -euphemistically termed surrogate motherhood-for another woman to carry their child to term. Others may conceive naturally and carry their own babies to term, but opt for caesarean births.

All these are done sometimes for health reasons, but in most cases, it is for cosmetic and aesthetics fancifulness. Some go through the procedure so their wives are not aged and disfigured by the vagaries of childbirth. It is the same reason other women do not breastfeed so their breasts can remain firm longer. Such lifestyles and personal choices, and the technological response to problems within heterosexual relationships have also been serendipitous for gay couples who, like their heterosexual counterparts, want children and a fulfilling family life.
Personally, homosexuality is not for me. However, that is not sufficient reason for me to categorize it as a sin or a crime; even less so, to hate or incite hatred against those who practise it. I unconditionally accept and respect those who find themselves inclined that way, and I would even forgo my rights, if it would ensure that their civic and human rights are protected as much as mine and the next wo/man. This is because there is nothing-scientific or spiritual- and I do not think there will be any to suggest that GLBT people are less human, less civic citizens than I am and undeserving of the moral, legal, and constitutional protection and social privileges heterosexuals claim for themselves.

To understand the silliness of those who hate others just because they do not look or behave like them, it may be useful to look at sexuality as being akin to the diversity of food culture. We would all be happier if we recognised the wisdom in the axiom that one wo/man's meat is another wo/man's poison. I came face to face with this truism in travelling and living among people from southern Africa-Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Bophutoswana. Caterpillar is to these communities what white ants and grasshoppers are to Ugandans. And not to speak about the food and food culture of Europe and North America that even grossed me out the most. I won’t be caught dead eating frogs, snails, mussels, squids or jelly fish! 

Close to home in Acholi itself, food culture varies from region to region. For instance, the Lamogi in Amuru are reputed for eating bats; the Padibe in Kitgum are famous for eating certain species of rats. To those from Agoro the northern most towns in Kitgum, from where my own mother came, crabs are delicacies- which my own people from Madi Opei detest vehemently and ridicule them for it. The point is that, throughout the world, food is food and what does not kill you, must certainly be good for you and welcome nourishment for your body, mind, and soul.

So sexuality itself, although not as voluntary as eating foods choices and culture is, its variety is certainly not unlike our national or global food culture. For instance, in Uganda, we have a diversity of sex culture within the heterosexual communities. In Makerere University lingo past, we used to say in Western Uganda, they do it with low-technology, shallow quarrying, with very little ecological footprints. On the other hand, eastern and northern parts of the country were categorised as being partial to deep-shaft mining and technology intensive. The point I am labouring to make here is that, it is unreasonable to think that what is not good for you, must not be good for someone else and vice versa. Or that we should imagine some dictator from Rwakitura banning Kwete, Ajon, Mwenge Migu, Kongo Ting, and decreeing god-knows-what as the “natural” drink for Ugandans!

Homosexuality is not a crime. Those who practise it do not harm anyone, when it is done between or among consenting adults. Violating minors or gaining carnal knowledge of minors is defilement and rape. Equally, having sex with adults against their will, regardless of their sex and gender, is rape and criminal. It does not matter whether the perpetrator and victim are heterosexuals or homosexuals; defilement or rape is defilement or rape: it is criminal and punishable. But no crime, even for rape, should be punishable by death among human communities living in the 21st Century.

Rationally, one would expect that Ugandans should be more tolerant and accepting of difference and diversity, since they have gone through two or more episodes of tragic violence and persecution based solely on identity, difference, and diversity. But the latest upsurge of hate campaigns by ministers, clergy, and their brainwashed religious cult communicants against homosexuality, makes it feel like we live in the times of Jesus and we were witnessing animated polemical debates between the Pharisees, the Sadducees and Christian adherents at Jewish temples and market places in AD 47.

Unfortunately in this debate, Africans have overplayed the mythologies of creationism and the bible is wielded as the answer to all our problems, struggles and interpretations of events and as sole source for moral rectitude. This has constricted and enfeebled our minds and given us up to irrational fears of difference and the unknown and surrender to fatalism. It is the reason no significant progress will come out of Africa, because we have erected a ring fire of religious and social taboos around our lives and thoughts, that venturing beyond is not only terrifying, but patrolled and policed by authoritarians like the NRM/A who hold us hostage to the myth that human progress beyond where we are in Uganda and Africa, is impossible. And that they must chaperone us on around, including how we express our sexuality which is an entirely private and personal matter in which the state has no business acting like a voyeur.

Our progress will begin with not being content with and challenging the ordinary and venturing into the realms of self-doubt and religious scepticism. Until Ugandan Christians can interpret their experiences and aspirations not only on the teachings and morals of the bible but also on factual and observed phenomena and material life- outside the mysticisms of Christianity, we will have to put another two thousand years behind us before we can break free of the shackles and limitations of mysticisms, nature, and social taboos.

It is not scientific, but a cursory observation would reveal that societies that have fewer sexual, social and personal taboos, have made tremendous progress and have shown greater imagination, ingenuity, innovations and inventiveness among their population. They cherish freedom of thought and respect civil liberties. Conversely, societies such as Uganda, where one man is in charge of awarding market tenders from Rukingiri to Lira and his word is the law; or where vice chancellors or chancellors of national universities are political appointees rather than meritorious professionals recognised in their fields and elevated by a professional body and academic peers, the degree of restrictions on personal freedoms and civil liberties have direct relationships with the state of scientific research, social development, ingenuity, curiosity and intellectual debate on matters of public policy and interest.

Given the state of our social, economic, and political development, homosexuality is the least of our worries and vices in Uganda, than irrational religious dogmas and the cooptation of the church, or one faith, to certify public moralities in a plural society. All human rights, democracy and civil liberties advocates worth their names; and every Ugandan citizen who loves personal freedom, ought to oppose the Anti Homosexuality Bill which is nothing but the expansion of the mechanisms of limiting all our civil liberties and personal freedoms.

However, the bill provides welcome opportunity for Ugandans to begin a robust national conversation on the protection of civil rights, which ensures that there is no discrimination based on race, colour, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexuality, religion, and party affiliation or political views, in the public domain. Such civil rights debate must endeavour to entrench the separation of the state from the church and uphold the integrity of Uganda as a secular state with plurality of faith and spiritual practices and without an official state religion.

In that regard, ministers, parliamentarians and other public servants should be prohibited from imposing Christian or Islamic ethics and moralities on the state and public; or to use their personal and private belief systems and morality as the basis for national, public policy, on matters outside the regulation of religious practices. Once we can ensure these clowns like Nsaba Buturo, will think otherwise about flogging their personal beliefs and religious dogmas to restrict and control our bodies and personalities.

Ugandans and all people of good will should wake up and see Yoweri Museveni and the NRM/A government and its agents for who they are: Purveyors of hate, who have no qualms about killing those who disagree with them or are unlike themselves. No doubt, they are more dangerous to the people of Uganda, than gays and lesbians.
Okello Lucima

N.B. The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Independent Publications Ltd.
written by Sukkhi Pal, November 04, 2009
I don't know what we can do to put sense into the thick brains of the likes of Butuuro and Bahati! As a Ugandan born in Western Uganda, and went through boy's schools and went through Makerere University, I know many names of distingushed gentlemen who had gay inclanations, and probabaly still have them but that has not made them in anyway bad people.

The issue at stake is bad law vs good law
written by Rev Amos Kasibante, November 05, 2009
In Uganda there is separation of church and state/religion as per the 1995 Constitution. We do not have a state church or state religion as such. But Ugandan society is overwhelmingly religious, not secular, having a plurality of religions. Consequently religious values may find expression in our laws; for some laws are expressions of the collective morality of a people. That is different from imposing a religious morality be it Islamic, Christian or African Traditional Religion (sometimes the latter's existence is forgotten). So, the issue at stake is not the separation of religion/church and state. It is whether and to what extent certain behaviours may be legislated and what the consequences of such legislation are likely to be. It is a contest between good laws and bad laws.

written by GUSTAVO SOLANO, November 05, 2009
i have learn trough the article Ugandas political situation an moreover social life , been so far away (i live in spain) it was very nice to know that there is an open mind person and a very sensitive human been
Gustavo Solano
Lloret de Mar

Of fire, religion, and water
written by Rev Amos Kasibante, November 05, 2009
On the other hand, Okello Lucima's article should make us reflect on the danger of creeping (resurgent?) extreme right-wing, fundamentalist religious attitudes whether Christian or Islamic that have rendered those who hold them intolerant of "difference" or "diversity". They want to enforce comformit to their views. They go on about an invasion of Western liberal morality or immorality in 'our society', sources of contamination and moral decadence. But we do not look at the opposite, which has also been invading Africa from outside. Religion - any religion or faith - is like fire or water. It can be life-giving or life destroying. This also applies to African Indigenous Traditions which many people have appealed to in their resistance to "foreign" ideas and practices - and that includes women's liberation.

Un-holy Sacred Cow!
written by Leonardo Ricardo, November 05, 2009
Minister James Buturo and his anti-Gay circus/conference presented before the Parliament of Uganda isn´t a proud moment for pro-religious beliefs or emotionally stable was a criminal act of deceit when setting up unqualified witnesses such as Scott Lively, the Holocaust denial revisionist and a handful of secondrate ex-gay blabbering con artists who HEAL LGBT people...who paid the expenses for this gangly group of exceedingly biased, and un-professional, bigots to come to Uganda and spout off? Archbishop Henri Orombi or President Museveni ought be embarrassed to be thought to be ANY PART of this hate-fearsmearing squad of extremist twits.

Good article
written by Omeros, November 06, 2009
But Reverend, what is a "good" law for your purposes or a "bad" law, for that matter? I suspect that a religious conservative on the one hand and a laissez-faire liberal on the other may well come to different conclusions on that question, particularly where what is at stake is a law proscribing sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex. If, as you accept, Uganda's laws reflect the overwhelmingly religious values of its electorate and its politicians feel obliged to thump the bible at every turn, to what extent is there a de facto religion of state (if not a de jure state religion)?

Dr Tamale explored moral and legal aspects of the gay Bill I would like to respond to the criticism in the letter; Dr Tamale ignored moral issues on

I would like to respond to the criticism in the letter; Dr Tamale ignored moral issues on gays (Daily Monitor, November 4).

The criticism in the letter left me wondering what colour morals really wear. What moral shades, for instance, have our legislators reflected in the Anti-Homosexual Bill?

The Ten Commandments forbid every human being including our lawmakers from murdering, stealing, worshipping idols and bearing false witness against one’s neighbour.

Sadly, the seemingly moralistic Bill, if passed into law, will drip with schemes of murder, theft of privacy and gays’ peace including that of any gay-look-alike, funders and researchers, advocates as well as breed false accusations against one’s competitors.

What happened to loving others as we love our selves? Is that not the arm of the strong stretched forth to victimise the minority again? Haven’t the proponents idolised homosexuality by seeking to tear down any temple where it abides?

We seriously need to think again about this Bill. Self righteousness need not be mistaken for righteousness. Dr Tamale did a good moral and legal review of the Bill.

Sheillah Nyanzi,

Protest at the Ugandan High Commission in London

People in London, please join the struggle at 12pm on Saturday the 7th of November. The location is 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DX. I hope we will come out in great numbers to fight for justice and Equal Rights for the Ugandan People (LGBT) every little effort counts.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

IBAHRI Condemns Introduction of Death Penalty for 'Aggravated Homosexuality'

press release
4 November 2009

The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) today condemned a proposal in Uganda to impose the death penalty for 'aggravated homosexuality' in the Anti Homosexuality Bill which was recently introduced into the Ugandan Parliament.
Under the Bill, 'aggravated homosexuality' is deemed to exist when a homosexual act occurs with disabled persons, persons below the age of 18 or when one of the parties is HIV-positive.
'Uganda's Penal Code already contains 15 capital offences and there are 637 prisoners on death row', said IBAHRI Co-Chair Martin Solc. 'This Bill adds sexual activity to that list.'
'Uganda is a party to the African Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,' said Justice Richard Goldstone, Co-Chair IBAHRI. 'The Covenant stipulates that the death penalty may only be imposed for the most serious of crimes. Under United Nations resolutions, countries which retain the death penalty should introduce a moratorium on its use. This Bill is against that clear international trend,' Justice Goldstone added.
The Bill is contrary to international law, regional law in Africa, the Ugandan Constitution and Uganda High Court rulings.
Dr Phillip Tahmindjis, Deputy Director of IBAHRI, said: 'This Bill is an attack on human dignity at several levels. It provides life imprisonment for homosexuality and seven years imprisonment for 'promoters' of homosexuality, such as publishers. The Ugandan Constitution provides for equality, privacy, freedom of speech and freedom from discrimination, and a Uganda High Court decision last December held that these rights apply to all people regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.'
'The provisions of international and regional human rights law, together with the Ugandan Constitution and these High Court rulings have been ignored by this Bill', Dr Tahmindjis said. 'Offences for "aggravated" behaviour are already adequately covered by the Ugandan Penal Code. The Bill is really an attack on sexuality rather than a protection for the vulnerable. Its name – the Anti Homosexuality Bill – indicates its real intention,' he added.