Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A letter to Rebecca Kadaga – from a supportive gay Ugandan

By Richard Sebagala Madam Speaker, the right Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, Member of Parliament (MP) for the Kamuli District Women’s Constituency since 1989. You are on a roll! Over the last three weeks you have managed to hog the media spotlight almost exclusively, relegating Uganda’s president to a parenthesis. That makes you something of a wonder woman. It takes chutzpah to push Uganda’s president to the inside pages and you must be congratulated for stepping up in such a bold way. First of all, Madam Speaker, welcome back from Canada. You were absolutely right to stand up to John Baird when he upbraided you in public about the murder of David Kato. That case had nothing to do with you and you were never part of the court case that eventually convicted Kato’s lover for that heinous crime. So, you did what you had to do for yourself and, indeed, for Uganda’s pride. John Baird would never speak to the Saudis or Kuwaitis in that manner – yet those countries have far more glaring gay and women’s rights abuses than Uganda. But as with everything, Madam Speaker, please remember that hubris is a terrible vice in politics. By hubris, I mean an excess of pride, ambition or self-confidence. More often than not, it leads politicians to overreach. Take your current involvement with failed politicians like James Nsaba-Buturo and convicted felons like Martin Ssempa and Michael Kyazze. While you have every right to listen to whoever wishes you to lend them an audience, as the Speaker of the House you represent the entire Parliament as well as the country. You thus cannot be seen to be siding with any one constituency even when their cause might further your own political ambitions. Speakers of the House have to be seen to be non-partisan, non-aligned, neutral. But of course you know this already. Madam Speaker, this gay man wants you to encourage Uganda’s Parliament to debate and pass the bill. My reasons for this are detailed here. In short, this bill has hung over our heads like a cloud for three years now and it is time to resolve the issues surrounding it once and for all. If you support the bill because you feel it is against our culture, so be it. But the facts don’t bear you out. You are too smart not to be aware that Buganda’s Kabaka Mwanga was homosexual without any urging from colonialists. Uganda’s own president, the leader of your National Resistance Movement party agrees, and has admitted it publicly, that homosexuality has always been part of the African and Ugandan fabric. In fact, if you re-read your anthropology, you will find that homosexuality was tolerated before the white man came to Africa with his Bible – that foremost foreign import that our detractors love to subjectively, but liberally, quote from. I gather that you have no children of your own but it can’t be lost on you that all gay men and women in Uganda (500,000 and counting according to unofficial estimates) must have been begotten through heterosexual unions. I thus disagree with your interpretation of the historical facts but feel that the bill should nonetheless go ahead since Uganda has a parliamentary system of making laws and the Bahati [Nazi] Bill which seeks to turn mothers, doctors, counselors into informers has already been tabled before the House. Madam Speaker, allow me to take you back to Shakespeare and caution you against “vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself, and falls on the other side.” Given what you must surely know befell Macbeth and his over-ambitious wife, a little more circumspection, forethought, moderation before you speak might not come amiss. Remember, too, the fable of Icarus who flew too close to the sun. Or that of Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse and his courtier named Damocles. You might be on a roll now, but there are all sorts of threats behind the glory you are seeking. A week is a very long time in politics but there are three more years to go to Uganda’s next presidential election – literally a lifetime. Madam Speaker: Hang on to your political ambitions. I would, however, presume to remind you that, as Speaker, you represent the entire country, including minorities – not just disgraced politicians, bigoted Parliamentarians or convicted religious prelates. Madam Speaker: Whether this bill is passed or not, you still have my support in your obvious quest to become the next president of Uganda – that is if I am not jailed and/or killed before 2016 by the legislation that you are so busy tying your colors to in which case my support will be moot. From a gay Ugandan, living in Uganda, that you seek to criminalize purely on account of who he is, but who nonetheless supports your presidential ambitions because he is totally fed up to the back teeth with this uncaring, bungling, corruption-ridden, thieving, tired, rusted, putrid dish of a government.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

MPs applaud Kadaga’s stance on gays, want Bill debated in House

By MERCY NALUGO MPs across the political divide in a plenary session chaired by Ms Kadaga denounce homosexuality and say the country’s moral values are threatened by cultural inventions from the western world. Parliament yesterday passed a resolution in recognition of Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s stand on homosexuality. The House also urged the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee to immediately table its report on the Bill for general debate. The committee’s chairperson Steven Tashobya yesterday said their report is almost done and will be brought to Parliament before it breaks off for Christmas recess. MPs across the political divide in a plenary session chaired by Ms Kadaga denounced homosexuality and said the country’s moral values are threatened by cultural inventions from the western world. Member after member hailed Ms Kadaga for her bold stand when she challenged the Canadian Foreign Affairs minister, John Baird, at a recent summit. The MP for Kinkiizi West, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, moved the motion that was overwhelmingly supported by legislators who committed themselves to passing the anti-homosexuality Bill. “I rise to add my voice to state clearly that you represented Uganda effectively in Canada. You represented our right to do what we want to do as a country. We have made a point very clearly that we abide by the country’s Constitution which guarantees the right of members and back benchers to move private members Bills and MP Bahati exercised that right,” said Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. While attending the 127th Inter-Parliamentary Union in Quebec, Canada, Ms Kadaga defended the country’s stance on homosexuality. Ms Kadaga reminded Mr Baird that Uganda was neither a colony nor a protectorate of Canada and as such her sovereignty, societal and cultural norms were to be respected. Rujumbura MP Jim Muhwezi hailed Ms Kadaga saying: “ Unless we are independent politically, we shall be a mat to be trampled upon. If it’s democracy let us practice it on principle.” Ndorwa West MP David Bahati three years ago moved a private members’ anti-homosexuality Bill. His Bill has received support from religious groups but has been condemned by gay rights activists. MPs Reagan Okumu, Latiff Ssebaggala, Jack Sabiiti, Joova Kamateeka, Kasirivu Atwoki all praised Ms Kadaga. mnalugo@ug.nationmedia.com

Speaker Kadaga promises to revive shelved gay Bill

By Isaac Imaka IN SUMMARY The Speaker’s promise follows her experience in Canada, where foreign officials asked her to block the bill. Entebbe Days after her defence against a Canadian minister’s attacks on Uganda over homosexuality, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has promised to expedite the debate on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Ms Kadaga made the assurance while addressing religious leaders and journalists at Entebbe International Airport on Monday. “They said I should stop the debate on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill but I assured them there is no way I can block a private members Bill,” she said. At the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Quebec, Canada, Ms Kadaga was involved in an altercation with that country’s Foreign Affairs minister, Mr John Baird, after the latter accused Uganda of trampling on human rights. The accusation saw Ms Kadaga tell the minister to stick to the day’s theme and respect Uganda’s sovereignty. “I will not accept to be intimidated or directed by any government in the world on matters of homosexuality,” she said, adding that she was not aware she was speaking for many people in the world, some of whom were in the conference. “I was surprised when colleagues came and thanked me saying that’s what they have always wanted to say but they had never gotten the courage to. That when it came to me that I had spoken for the whole of Africa, for the Arab world and Asians,” she said. The welcome ceremony and press briefing was organised by religious leaders, former Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo and the mover of the Bill, Mr David Bahati, all of whom are pushing for the enactment of the anti-homosexuality Bill. A large procession comprising members of different Pentecostal churches, Makerere University students and boda boda cyclists camped at the airport from 10am to after midnight when Ms Kadaga emerged to greet them as they ululated and waved placards appreciating her boldness in Canada. “You are our saviour, we want the bill now,” one of the placards read. Pastor Michael Were, who spoke on behalf of the religious leaders, called on other national leaders to follow Ms Kadaga’s footsteps for the sake of the country’s culture and traditions. Asked whether she was not mindful of Uganda being denied aid and her being denied entry visas to pro-gay countries, Ms Kadaga said such countries were welcome to keep their aid and visas. iimaka@ug.nationmedia.com