By Ben Simon (AFP)
KAMPALA — If Uganda?s recently tabled Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law, Frank Mugisha and other individuals found campaigning for gay rights will face the choice of going to jail or leaving the country.
Mugisha heads Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a leading sexual rights advocacy group that could soon be classed a criminal organization.
"I have never really considered moving out of
. But if I cannot work within the country, then I will have to leave," said Mugisha. Uganda
The bill has baffled legal experts who read it as the product of an over-zealous Evangelical community that is clueless about both
?s constitution and international law. Uganda
But for the bill?s proponents, chief among them Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, who has repeatedly alleged that there exists an organized, western-backed plot to recruit people into homosexuality, the law is necessary to confront a national emergency.
Homosexuality is spreading, Buturo argues, and if people like Mugisha aren?t stopped they will continue to lure impressionable youths into their sinful lifestyle and thereby threaten the perpetuation of the Ugandan people.
"Who is going to occupy
in 20 years if we all become homosexuals? We know that homosexuals don?t reproduce," Buturo said last year when announcing plans to table the bill. Uganda
[Yes, I know, you are now seriously concerned for Buturo's state of reasoning. He is a PhD mind you, an MP and a minister. Seems doesnt save him from stupid, conspiratory theories? Why cant such an educated man reason?]
But, for statements of questionable intelligence, Ssempa has some. He is actually enjoying the accolade in Uganda. At very long last, his fight against gays in Uganda is on a roll.
Sylvia Tamale of
Kampala?s told AFP. Makerere University Law School
For Tamale, the bill?s composition reveals an absence of qualified legal input and an unhealthy amount of input from people like Martin Ssempa, a prominent Evangelical pastor and internationally known anti-gay crusader who has confirmed having contributed to the bill.
"It would be political suicide for any Ugandan politician to vote against this. Leaders will have to ask themselves, do I listen to my own people, or ... to top down orders coming from
and the UN," he added. New York
Ssempa seems to relish the criticism hurled at him by western rights groups, but he is concerned the proposal will create a fissure within the
. Evangelical Church
"The western church is going to find itself increasingly at odds with the African church and find itself in a situation where there is a split like in the Anglican Church," he said.
Ssempa told AFP he was disappointed by a recent statement by American mega-Pastor Rick Warren, who delivered the convocation at
president Barack Obama?s Inauguration. US
I seriously believe there is something wrong with the way Ssempa thinks. But then, I am gay.... And he is anti-gay. But, more important is, he is feeling the pressure. And, we hope to puncture more of his ebbulience. Unfortunately, real stupidity has no cure. But, is Ssempa stupid, or just very clever. No, I am not saying stupid as in abuse. Stupid as in an observation of his actions..... Eh, you may not find any difference!
The article continues...
I read this op-ed in the LA Times, and I had to shake my head. No. I am not commenting. Just follow the link
U.S. sends millions of dollars in relief money to , which is considering a draconian law aimed at homosexuals. Uganda
Does it help, or hurt? I know, Ssempa and Bahati are very happy with such headlines. But, I also understand a gay man in the US who would put this pressure on. Why send hand outs to a country that thinks your sexuality is so bad, they want to 'eliminate' their own homosexuals?
Of this article in the Guardian, I seriously liked the last lines, which I am lifting to here. Because they show the state of mind of the, on the roll, anti-gay group. They fascinate me. The players. I had never met Bahati, and was prepared to hate him when I saw him at the debate. But, I couldnt. I can feel the hate that oozes from Ssempa. I can feel disgust and horror at Langa doing an intellectual justification of a genocide. But, Bahati, he is just a dupe. Sorry, he is THE dupe.
Here are the lines from the Guardian
David Bahati, the MP who introduced the bill, defended it by saying "homosexuality is not a human right. It is a foreign behaviour imported and promoted by people using the poverty in our country to expound bad behaviour".
[I love collecting such statements. They show the real state of mind of the anti-gay group here.
Buturo is seriously happy that Uganda is showing 'international leadership'. You know, you may look at him and wonder whether he is serious. And even doubt his sanity. And, you cant really believe the statement. But he is. Very serious. He is happy and enjoying the roll. God help Uganda]
Now, pick this from somewhere else
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
. 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. Uganda
Why do I feel the incredulous tone in those opening lines? Yet, this is the absolute truth. Ssempa and group are amazing. They brush these details off, saying they are protecting the 'boy-child'. I am also incredulous, but, these guys are deadly serious. How does one deal with this kind of schizophrenia? It IS madness.
"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.
Dont worry Gerald, we are all in the same boat!
But, the quotes from the other end of the anti-gay spectrum are incredulously funny. They would be anyway. Here are some choice ones.
The International Leadership quote.
Uganda's ethics and integrity minister sees the uproar surrounding the bill as a positive sign that is "providing leadership" to the world. The minister, James Nsaba Buturo, says he is happy the bill is causing a lot of debate globally. Uganda
"It is with joy we see that everyone is interested in what
Uganda is doing, and it is an opportunity for 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. Uganda
Back in the days when the Church of Uganda had an official stand, the spokesperson had said these things.
Religious leaders from the Orthodox 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. Pentecostal Church
Reverend Canon Aaron Mwesigye Kafundizeki, the
provincial secretary, says: "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." Church of Uganda
Kafundizeki said pushing for extra territorial jurisdiction would be counter-productive.
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. Church of Uganda
Yes, the only objections they had were those. All the others are stellar bits of legislation. Fact is, he said that they should 'emphasize life imprisonment' more than the death penalty.
And, you know what happened? Christians from abroad were so horrified that, the Church of Uganda withdrew its official position. And, now has no position on the bill. They are still studying it.
Know which other Church is still studying it? Catholics.... Mum, to date. Not even a whisper of anything.
A Hate campaign? No. Says Bahati.
Bahati denies claims that he is involved in a hate campaign.
"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
. 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. Uganda
"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.
If I was not so intimately involved in this thing, I would really find this funny. That now, it is the Episcopal Church which is thinking the Church of Uganda amiss, somehow in the head.
No, they have not issued a statement.
But, the pressure is on.
I must say, I dont know the internal politics of the various churches. I try to keep my knowledge to the minimum... So, I dont know how this helps, but, I believe it helps!
"The Episcopal Church, like the Anglican Communion as a whole, is very clear in its support for the human rights of all people, including gay and lesbian persons," said Alexander Baumgarten, director of the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations. "For us in the Episcopal Church, that means we oppose all abuses of human rights, whether in our own midst or in other parts of the world, and we seek to make that opposition known through our ministry of advocacy."
The Chicago Consultation on Nov. 20 called on four prominent church leaders to raise their voices in opposition to the bill.
In letters sent to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and Archbishop Henri Orombi of
, the consultation called the bill "draconian anti-gay legislation" and urged the leaders to speak out against it. Uganda
Baumgarten noted that for the past several weeks, the Episcopal Church "has encouraged Episcopalians who have contacted us on this issue to be in touch with their own elected officials. As of the present moment, we are very encouraged by the engagement of the U.S. State Department, which has called the law a 'significant step backwards for human rights,' and has given public assurances that it is addressing the matter with the Ugandan government. It is our understanding that neither the Ugandan government nor the Church of the
(Anglican) has taken a position on this legislation." Province of Uganda
where does all this leave me? With lots of stuff to read. And, little knowledge whether my reading will save the day.
Keep up the pressure. Please.
I am ashamed on behalf of my countrymen. (there are few women doing the anti-gay thing!) But, well, that is the kind of war that it is.
And, it is no less deadly.
Have a good day