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anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda is back

8 February 2012

Elias Biryabarema of Reuters Africa reports:

“The anti-homosexuality bill was re-tabled on the floor of the House today and has been referred to parliament’s legal and parliamentary affairs committee for scrutiny,” parliamentary spokeswoman Helen Kawesa told Reuters.

To give some background, the bill was originally introduced in 2009 by member of parliament David Bahati, of the ruling NRM party. Same-sex relationships are already illegal in Uganda, but the bill would make the “offense” of homosexuality punishable with life imprisonment.

Two years ago, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni spoke of the bill as a foreign relations problem. Given the recent announcement by the UK that aid would be withheld from countries persecuting gays, I can’t imagine that even if the bill were to pass in parliament that Museveni would sign it into law.

Amnesty International has issued a statement, calling the bill a “grave assault on human rights that must be rejected.” And, Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, has already responded to the re-introduction of the bill on Twitter:

As I mentioned before, I am working on a research project with colleagues on political homophobia in Africa. The definition we use for political homophobia is: state leaders’ public denigration of homosexuality. Our intuition is that homophobia is used as a political tool, instrumental for politicians wanting to divert attention from other issues. Ugandan public intellectual Andrew Mwenda shares that intuition:

Politicians use the protection of children and other vulnerable populations in their rhetoric about limiting LGBT rights. See, for example, this video clip (after 1:14, HT Evan Lieberman’s blog):

Other related posts:

Gay Rights in Africa, Zimbabwe (Evan Lieberman)

David Kato – one year on (sebaspace)

MP David Bahati Plans to Push the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (African Activist)

Video Surfaces Of Gay African Man Being Beaten, Burned To Death (LezGetReal)

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