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Uganda lawmakers quietly reviving "Kill The Gays" bill

Back in May, when it looked like the Anti-Homosexuality (aka 'Kill gays') bill might pass the Ugandan Parliament in its last week before the Parliament closed, we published 'What happens if Uganda's 'kill the gays' bill passes? How can the World help then?'

This went through possible consequences, including what Ugandan activists have said, that there would be legal moves to have the then law declared unconstitutional. Ugandan activist Frank Mugisha:

"It violates the constitution of Uganda, so we shall go to courts of law, and appeal for the law to be repealed."

We pointed out that even though President Museveni has said in the past he would veto the AHB, a veto would be unprecedented on any legislation by him.

Yesterday we reported that the bill is believed to be - quietly - coming back to the Parliament within a fortnight, and it is said that Ugandan government ministers have been:

"Quietly appealing to MPs to pass the bill via letters and emails."

Even though the international fury around the bill in May drew almost no attention within Uganda, the ongoing opposition campaign against President Musceveni, such as the walk-to-work protests, means that Museveni has every reason not to listen to the West's calls for his intervention, such as an AHB veto, argues Sarah Gunther of the American Jewish World Service (which funds several Ugandan groups):

"Passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and pandering to the country’s hateful climate for LGBTI people," she says, "would surely garner Museveni increased public approval at a time when he desperately needs it."

However Elizabeth Palchik Allen in an article in The New Republic pointed out that:

"It’s safe to say that American advocacy, both independent and official, against the anti-gay bill was successful precisely because the United States has a fairly good relationship with the Museveni regime."

She noted that in contrast to statements led by President Obama himself against the AHB, the U.S. government’s public response to the violence unleashed during Uganda’s urban protests was "embarrassingly tepid", with the assistant secretary of state for African affairs meekly urging Museveni’s government to be “civil.”

She argues that Americans are in "a morally and politically difficult situation".

"Those of us who expressed outrage over the anti-gay bill were right to do so. But the price of opposing hateful measures against gays can’t be to avert our eyes from the behavior of an ally who tramples on his countrymen’s freedoms. The solution, of course, is not for Americans to stop opposing anti-gay measures. It’s to give as much attention to the overall political situation in Uganda as we did to the “kill the gays” bill."

This was what Ugandans said when the passage of the bill was threatened early this year. The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law Uganda (representing over 30 groups) said the AHB was being "used to blind the world to everything else that is going on in Uganda now" and placed it in a context which was lost in most reporting and most campaigning:

"It is clear that if the hate-filled Kill the Gays Bill is passed, it will finish the process of burying alive not just the sexual minorities of Uganda, but also all those who support the principles of constitutionalism, human rights for all, inclusivity, and democratic governance."

Long term Uganda watcher, activist and Publisher of GAY U.S.A. Blog, Melanie Nathan, has started a petition to the US Ambassador to Kampala and has created this list of consequences, should the bill become law, many of which we covered in detail back in May. I would add two notes:

  1. American and International Corporations will not be able to function in a Country where employers cannot send gay and lesbian executives, employees, representatives;
  2. The U.S. Government  and other countries would be placing its gay and lesbian envoys, employees at risk - regardless of diplomatic immunity -
  3. The LGBT communities around the world and allies will be calling for trade boycotts and divestment from Uganda;
  4. Tourism to Uganda will be boycotted by the International community;
  5. Ugandan Coffee importers will be targeted in the U.S.A.
  6. Uganda's interests in the U.S.A. and other countries will be targeted for protests;
  7. The world LGBTI community and allies will  continue to pressure President Zuma to remove Jon Qwelane from Uganda and to stop South African investment in Uganda;
  8. The Gay communities of the world will demand  the U.S.A. and U.K. and other Western countries offer asylum to LGBTI people in Uganda and safe passage to other countries.
  9. Activists will target the Banks that provide services in Uganda with boycotts and account closures;
  10. Uganda will be excluded from international sports;
  11. U.S. will be pressured to stop aid to Uganda;

LGBT Asylum News urges action today for LGBT asylum seekers and asks activists to encourage friends and contacts to visit website for details.