Monday, October 31, 2011

UK Premier threatens to suspend aid over anti-gay Bill

By Richard Wanambwa


United Kingdom has warned countries that have banned homosexuality, saying UK aid to such nations is likely to end if such discrimination is not checked. Uganda being inclusive on the list of nations that have or intend to ban homosexuality stand to lose the annual foreign aid from UK.

During his tenure in office as UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown announced Britain’s aid amounting to 70 million pounds each year for a period of 10 years which would stand at 700 million pounds. But David Cameron has threatened to withhold aid from governments that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality.

The UK prime minister said he raised the issue with some of the states at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia. “Britain is one of the premier aid givers in the world. We want to see countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights. It is one of the things that determine our aid policy, and there have been particularly bad examples where we have taken action,” Mr Cameron said.

Human rights reform in the Commonwealth was one of the issues that leaders failed to agree upon at the summit. Mr Cameron said those receiving UK aid should “adhere to proper human rights”. Ending the ban on homosexuality was one of the recommendations of an internal report into the future relevance of the Commonwealth.

Mr Cameron’s threat applies only to one type of bilateral aid known as general budget support, and would not reduce the overall amount of aid to any one country. Malawi has already had some of its budget support suspended over concerns about its attitude to gay rights.

No pressure
Concerns have also been raised with the governments of Uganda and Ghana. But he conceded that countries could not change immediately, and cautioned that there would be a “journey”. “This is an issue where we are pushing for movement; we are prepared to put some money behind what we believe in. But I am afraid that you can’t expect countries to change overnight,” he said.

Cameron said he had spoken with a number of African countries and that more pressure had been applied by Foreign Secretary William Hague, who deputised him during parts of the summit. Some 41 nations within the 54-member Commonwealth have laws banning homosexuality. Many of these laws are a legacy of British Empire laws.

Malawi recently had £19m of its budget support suspended following various infractions including poor progress on human rights and media freedoms and concern over the government’s approach to gay rights.

The Bill to ban homosexuals in Parliament was brought forward by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati. However, midway, it raised controversy leading to both internal and external supporters of the gay rights to question Uganda’s interest in enacting such a law.

Mr Bahati, the mover of the Bill, was at one point locked out of the conference in America because of his perceived anti-gay stand. Information Minister Mary Karooro Okurut refused to comment on the issue while referring this paper to Fr. Simon Lokodo, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity whose mobile phone was switched off.

Ugandan MPs pass motion to retain Bills

By Alfred Wandera

Bills that were tabled in the Eighth Parliament but were not passed into laws will be saved and retained in the Ninth Parliament, thanks to the motion MPs approved last week.
The motion to save the 23 Bills was tabled in the House by the UPDF representative Sarah Mpabwa and seconded by Oyam North MP Krispus Ayena (UPC).

“Much as there are strong arguments advanced for the lapse of Parliament Bills upon dissolution of Parliament, these arguments should be applied with exception to the Bills before Parliament. Before a Bill is tabled in Parliament for first reading, it has been subjected to so many processes including consultations.

A lot of time and resources are committed to these bills at these stages, let alone the cost of publishing and gazetting them,” said Mpabwa in her motion.

She added: “We also know that the practice in most Parliaments is to save the Bills of the previous Parliament. It is for these reasons that this Parliament (Ninth) should find it fitting and proper that the bills of the Eighth Parliament are saved and considered by the relevant committees.”

Seconding the motion, Ayena said a lot of resources had been invested in the Bills, and argued that some of the Bills are based on common sense and therefore their importance ought not to be overemphasized.
Workers MP Sam Lyomoki moved an amendment to the motion saying Bills that had not been included in Mpabwa’s motion should not be left out.

Speaker Kadaga said there is no rule, as quoted by Mpabwa that says that a Bill lapses with the end of a session of Parliament.

Isingiro Woman MP Grace Byarugaba Isingoma said there should be an amendment to the rules of procedure to provide for automatic carrying forward of the Bills of the previous House without moving a motion.

Kadaga approved the idea and directed the chairman of the committee on Rules, Discipline and Privileges to consider the proposal.

The saving and retaining of the Bills of the Eighth Parliament gives a life line to some of the controversial draft legislations that drew heated debates from human rights activists and moralists like the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 that was privately sponsored by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati.

Other Bills returning to the House are the Anti-money Laundering Bill, 2009; the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Bill, 2007; the Regional Governments Bill, 2009; the Transfer of Convicted Offenders Bill, 2007; the Geographical Indications Bill, 2008; the Implementation of Government Assurances Bill, 2008; the Industrial Property Bill, 2009; the Chattels Securities Bill, 2009; the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010; the Plant Variety Protection Bill, 2010; the Plant Protection and Health Bill, 2010; the HIV/Aids Prevention and Control Bill, 2010; and the Uganda National Metrological Authority Bill, 2010.

Others are the Pharmacy Profession and Pharmacy Practice Bill, 2006; the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (Amendment) Bill, 2010; the National Council for Older Persons Bill, 2010; the National Council for Disability (Amendment) Bill, 2010; the Uganda Forestry Association Bill, 2010; the Retirement Benefits (Sector Liberalisation) Bill, 2011; and the Anti-Counterfeit Bill, 2011.

The handling of the Bills forms the core business of the House committees that scrutinize the draft laws before they tabled in Parliament for debate and final passing into laws.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Caught between a male personality and female body

By Yazid Yolisigira

Makutu village, about 30kms from Iganga town is quite popular because of one person, Nabirye,whose first name I later learn is Fauza. When you ask what is special about Nabirye, laughter follows as the person delves into explaining her double-gender - male and female. It is obviously very complicated to explain that the said Nabirye, could easily pass for a woman or man because she has two sexual organs. The dictionary word for people like her is hermaphrodite.

In Busoga culture, the name Nabirye is often given to a woman who has given birth to twins. The parents of the 20-year-old, say that they named their child Nabirye because of her two sexual organs, an explanation other elders on the village concur with.

According to the father Mohamed Gadonya, Nabirye, the youngest of their seven children was born in 1989 at Makutu health centre III with two sexual organs. The male organ is said to be on the top and the female one below. Surprisingly, when urinating, both organs function.

“After normal delivery, the nurse told us that the baby had two organs. She then advised us to go to Iganga hospital for consultations, possibly for an operation to remove one organ. But when we came back home to mobilise money, my mother refused, claiming that her grandchild was going to die in the process. We abandoned the plans to take her back to hospital,” says Mr Gadonya.

It was on that day that they named the child Nabirye. “ The three of us resolved to keep it a secret, but when he went to school posing as a female, one of his school mates noticed the male organ while in the female urinal, then the whole village came to know,” says the father.

Nabirye’s mother, Fatina says he has never suffered any serious illness since his childhood. According to her, the child was like other children.
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He went to school at Makutu Primary School from 1997 to 2006 where he completed primary level.
In 2007, he joined Bunalweni Hillside Mission for secondary education. “When he was there, the teachers liked him very much because he was a footballer and a musician. He passed O’ level with good grades, but I couldn’t afford to take him to the next level,” Mr Gadonya, a peasant farmer narrates in a low tone.

Meeting Nabirye
I reached the Gadonya’s home at around 10am and when I asked for Nabirye, they told me he had gone to the farm with his wife. After interviewing the parents, they asked one of the children to accompany me to the farm where the couple had gone. Fortunately, as we were on our way there, the two returned.

Nabirye, who I had learnt had a wife and two month’s old baby, dressed in a blouse and a skirt was carrying a hand hoe on his shoulders while the wife, also dressed in a blouse and a skirt, had their child on her back.

His appearance is very confusing. He looks like a woman and wears a bra for his big breasts and yet has short hair like a man.
As Nabirye’s father introduced me to the couple as a journalist, his wife picked a jerrycan and ran away to the water source laughing.

Nabirye who is a businessman trading in farm produce asked me to wait until “he” finished up with his customers who were selling maize to him.

After ten minutes he settled down, laughing and asking what exactly I wanted.

On asking whether it was true that he bears two sexual organs, he affirmed, talking very freely in a soft female voice.

“Yes I have. God created me wrongly, but I am happy. I don’t feel hurt about my appearance because that is how I was created and will never change. I socialise freely in the community and people like me very much. That wife you have seen knows everything and loves me,” he explained.

He says that he only suffered discrimination at secondary school for a short while, but later the students grew to appreciate him. He boasts that he even got into a relationship.

From Senior two, many girls started falling for him because of his appearance vis-à-vis his talent in playing football and leading the school music choir.

“I was a good goalkeeper. I started wearing skirts in my childhood and even when in the goal post, I used to wear my skirt with shorts inside. To fellow students, it looked funny, but I had nothing to do. The opponents hardly scored a goal against my team and that is why the teachers liked me so much. It was also as a result of this that many girls fell in love with me.”

One of his former teachers at Bunalweni Hillside Mission acknowledged that Nabirye was a very talented student. The teacher recalls the time when Nabirye as a striker, scored the winning goal in a match against Green Hill School in Iganga.

To earn a living, he trades in farm produce. He rides a bicycle to different villages looking for maize, coffee, beans, rice and other farm produce which he sells to manage his family.

Although Nabirye denies having other children, there are claims in the village that he has twins which he got after impregnating one of the girls in the village when he was still at school.

He however dismisses the allegations saying that he introduced that girl to his friend, a one Sadat who impregnated her. But Sadat and his parents denied responsibility of the twins claiming that they were for Nabirye. They went to the office of the district probation officer and resolved to go for a DNA test. According to the probation officer Daniel Nyende, the results showed that the twins were not fathered by Nabirye. Nonetheless, Nabirye who no stranger to talk in the village lives a contented life with his family. He has accepted himself and learnt how to live an ordinary life as a husband.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

UK Chogm delegates ask Uganda to resist gay push


A British Christian pressure group has asked African, Caribbean and Asian nations to oppose a motion to legalise homosexuality at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting slated for next week in Australian city of Perth.

The motion, tabled by Australian delegate Michael Kirby, will be supported by the UK delegation.

Mr Stephen Green, the director of Christian Voice, said: “Across the West, homosexual rights is now mainstream in every political party and is promoted by the public sector. The Church is fighting a rear-guard action in nations such as Australia and the UK, and few are found who will support those countries in the world where homosexual acts are rightly against the law.”

Mr Green said sex tourism is already a problem in African, Asian and Caribbean nations.

“Legalising sodomy and other obscene homosexual practices would make matters even worse. Young people across the world deserve to be protected from the moral and physical dangers of homosexual activity,” Mr Green said.

‘Neo-colonialists imposition’
According to the activist, the last thing Uganda needs is the neo-colonialist imposition of homosexuality from countries such as Britain, whose society is described as ‘broken’ even by our own Prime Minister.

The activists say PM David Cameron’s obsession with homosexuality to the extent of promoting gay marriage and using foreign aid to export Western depravity.

Mr Green asked the churches of Uganda to come together and pray for their delegations to Chogm and for righteousness to flow as a river in Uganda to the glory of God.

This year Cabinet threw out the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 on the advice of Mr Adolf Mwesige, the ruling party lawyer, saying the Bill was unnecessary since government has a number of laws in place that criminalise homosexual activities.

But Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, the architect of the Bill, insists the proposed legislation is a property of Parliament and that the Executive should stop “playing hide-and-seek games” on the matter.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Uganda’s first openly gay bar, Sappho Islands closed down last Sunday after just over a year in operation.

Jacqueline Kasha the Ugandan LGBTI activist who was instrumental in setting up Sappho Islands told behind the Mask in Kampala that she is determined to open another one soon.

The bar was reportedly closed down because the landlady complained about the appearance of revellers who frequented the venue. The seemingly spooked landlady was quoted as saying, “The bar brings people who look strange.”

The closure of the bar continues to highlight Uganda’s homophobic tendencies. Many people are denied rental accommodation because of their suspected or actual sexual orientation.

Kasha, the leader of human rights group Freedom and Roam Uganda, said on Wednesday in Kampala that the closure of Sappho Island arising from complaints by the landlady would not stop gays from having a social life in Uganda and promised a new bar would be opened.

Kasha said “The closure of Sappho doesn’t mean it’s the end of us having a social space. The way I managed to open Sappho in the first place is the way I will open it up elsewhere.”

She said she was not giving up on her dream of creating a social space for the LGBTI community.

A defiant Kasha said, “More than ever I am very determined. The next one will be bigger and even better. It’s one way of intimidating us but we shall overcome.”

Sappho Island was situated in Ntinda, a middle class Kampala neighbourhood. When BTM visited the place on Wednesday afternoon, there were sign posts advertising for new tenants to come and occupy the premises.

Once a lively and cordial welcoming hide out with immense ambience, Sappho now rests in ruins. The grass thatched hut has been pulled down to make way for new tenants. The entrance gate is closed.

But the Sappho Island rainbow coloured signpost continued to mark the entrance.

Until last Sunday the bar was one of the best known hang out spots for Uganda’s gay community and provided a focal point for the community. It was here for example murdered LGBTI activist David Kato’s funeral party set out from. According to a BBC report filed last year it was “where gay people feel safe, where they can be themselves.”

The closure of Sappho Island also highlights the fear among some Ugandans created by the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 in which every person is meant to report a suspected gay person within 24 hours.

Although the bill has stalled in Uganda’s Parliament, many Ugandans who are not keenly following the development of the bill, think the proposed bill is already law and enhances their earlier homophobic tendencies


Uganda’s Constitutional Court on Monday October 3 heard a petition filed by local LGBTI activists challenging a law that bars homosexuals from employment and accessing equal opportunities. Activist Adrian Jjuko, who is also the Executive Director of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), petitioned the court two years ago asking it to nullify section 15(6) d of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act 2007.

The section states that the “Commission shall not investigate any matter involving behaviour which is considered to be immoral and socially harmful; or unacceptable by the majority of the cultural and social communities in Uganda.”

While homosexuals are not mentioned by name as one of the groups in the Act, during the debate to pass the law, the Parliamentary Hansard of December 12, 2006, records Ms Syda Bbumba, the former Finance Minister saying homosexuals should be targeted using the disputed clause. She was supported by other legislators.

Ms Bbumba was reported saying, “It is very important that we include that clause. This is because the homosexuals and the like have managed to forge their way through in other countries by identifying with minorities,”

It is this clause that gay rights activists are disputing in the case. They say that amongst other things, the Commission is tasked with ensuring that all Ugandans have access to equal opportunities, irrespective of tribe, religion, political opinion, race or any other such considerations.

The petition was heard by five judges of the Constitutional Court led by deputy chief justice Alice Mpagi Bahigeine. The other judges are Steven Kavuma, Arach Amoko, Remmy Kasule and Constance Byamugisha.

In the respondent’s submission, the Attorney General maintained that such a law was necessary and justified under Ugandan constitution. Ladislus Rwakafuzi, a Kampala gay friendly lawyer is representing Mr Jjuko.

Minorities are not defined in the Constitution of Uganda. However, vulnerable groups have been defined in the National Equal Opportunities Policy of 2006 as categories of people who lack security and susceptible to risk.

Mr Jjuko maintains that that such a law was not good for human rights in Uganda, and called on all activists to stand and defend the rights of minority groups in Uganda.

Rwakafuzi said his client wants the section of the law declared unconstitutional. A date for the ruling will be set by the court.

Uganda’s judiciary has in the past shown some level of independence when handling matters brought by groups advocating for homosexuals. One of the judges handling this petition also faulted government in another case in which local village officials and the police intruded the privacy of LGBTI activist, Victor Mukasa and searched his home allegedly to find evidence of homosexuality.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


The Professor Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize (Raftostiftelsen) is a human rights award established in the memory of the Norwegian human right activist, Thorolf Rafto.

A press release issued Thursday by the official Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website said SMUG, under the leadership of Mr Frank Mugisha, had played an important role to stop the controversial Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 from being passed by Ugandan Parliament.

Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said, “I would like to congratulate Sexual Minorities Uganda on winning this important prize. It is a recognition of SMUG’s courageous efforts to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda.”

Norway’s Minister for the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim added, “We see this as a tribute to all those who dare to stand up against the discrimination and hate crime sexual minorities are often subjected to. SMUG is working to dispel myths and prejudice so that, in the long term, society will realise that human rights are for all.”

On a number of occasions Norway has raised the issue of the situation of sexual minorities with the Ugandan authorities, including in talks between President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni and Mr Støre.

Mr Mugisha told Behind the Mask in Kampala that he was excited about the prize. He said, “Although the work of speaking against injustices to homosexuals is not recognized in Uganda, it is receiving attention internationally. That’s why Uganda should be proud of us for speaking out against injustices. This prize is not only given to LGBTI activists, it is recognition across sectors.”

He said the award would offer “Protection because of the international high profile it brings with it”. He said SMUG deserved the award because it has come along way defending minority groups.

Mr Mugisha recently won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award created by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial in 1984 to honour individuals around the world who show courage and have made a significant contribution to human rights in their country.

The Rafto prize is awarded annually by the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, which was founded in the humanistic tradition of the Helsinki Accords in order to promote the fundamental human rights of intellectual and political freedom.

Today, the foundation is based at the Human Rights House in Bergen, Norway. The major work of the foundation, including the organization of the award ceremony is done by a small team of professional staff and volunteers. The award ceremony takes place at Den Nationale Scene in Bergen annually in November.

The initial idea of the Rafto Prize was to provide a basic informative platform for the laureates that would help to receive further attention from the international media and support from political and non-political organisations.

By awarding the Rafto Prize, the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights seeks to bring attention to independent voices that due to oppressive and corruptive regimes are not always heard. For example, four Rafto Laureates have subsequently received further international assistance and were subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. They are Aung San Suu Kyi, Jose Ramos-Horta, Kim Dae-Jung and Shirin Ebadi.