By Pauline Kairu & Dalton Wanyera (email the author)
Posted Wednesday, February 17 2010 at 00:00
Hundreds of Jinja residents took to the streets on Monday in support of the anti-homosexuality Bill. Chanting messages peppered with anti-gay slurs and displaying placards denouncing the practice, the demonstrators made their way around the town led by religious leaders in a procession that brought business to a temporary stand still.
Western leaders rebuked
The demonstrators also criticised Western leaders’ disapproval of the Bill. “Obama leave Ugandans alone,” “Obama to hell with your aid,” were some of the messages written on the placards.
The Bill which was introduced in Parliament in October last year by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, has got some chiding from US President Barrack Obama and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
It also reportedly attracted condemnation from the US Secretary of State, Ms Hillary Clinton, while Sweden has threatened to withhold aid to Uganda over the same.
The Bill seeks the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality if the perpetrator is HIV positive, a serial offender or acts against minors among other punshimnets. “Of what importance is homosexuality to us? It is as if we have no brains. Let them keep their homosexuality and keep their money as well!” a woman among the shouting crowd yelled.
Speaking following the procession that lasted about two hours, Pastor Martin Ssempa, one of the prominent supporters of the Bill, said it was a shame that the US president had taken to supporting the un-African custom and expected Uganda to follow suit. “Obama even if you do not give us money for medicine for our people, to hell with that money, we would rather die but die in dignity,” he said.
He added: “This is Uganda and we also have our rights just like the Americans have theirs. We decide for ourselves what is good for us. So these leaders should leave us alone to make our own legislations that are good for us.” The clerics, who preached against the practice at a crusade held at the Kazi Mingi grounds in the town, also claimed the media had failed in its duty to fight the practice.
Pastor Matthias Sserugo said: “The anti-gay federation is not here to express their hatred for homosexuals but to tell them that they can change and society can accept them once more.” President Museveni recently expressed opposition to some sections of the proposed Bill noting that they would harm Uganda’s foreign policy.