29 May, 2010

UGANDA and Anti-homosexuality! Update # 4

Background. (See resources at end of this post):
The Anti-homosexuality bill introduced in the Ugandan Congress in October 2009 and which was roundly criticized by Western Nations in December, received a positive boost this month but this does not mean that all provisions set forth in the bill will be eliminated.

In mid January 2010, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni began to withdraw his support for the bill and appointed a cabinet committee to review and the bill.

Very recent events.
In Mid May, the committee  recommended that the bill be withdrawn !!!

It seems that the two  most odious and hate-filled sections will be eliminated: 1) the death penalty for homosexuals under a variety of circumstances,  and 2) that parents, teachers, clergy persons, etc. report to law enforcement any homosexuals they know about. This move is good. They are also the provisions that the Vatican and other religious groups, human rights groups and western governments strongly opposed.

However, the committee also recommended that other provisions in the bill be kept and inserted into existing sexuality laws. In fact, it specifically recommended that Clause 13 of the bill "was worthy of consideration." If Clause 13 is retained, it will forbid the "promotion of homosexuality." Even if revised, this clause might include negative sanctions against Sex education and AIDS awareness programs, advertising AIDS treatment programs, Condom and free needle distribution and other very important health-related programs, as well as discussions of homosexuality in newspapers and on TV and publicity or  advertisements by Gay clubs and other Gay-related entertainment or social and artistic events.

Possibilities for the near future.
All this means that the worst of the bill almost certainly will be eliminated and many other provisions of the bill are already in existing sexuality laws. The single most problematic issue is that related to "promoting homosexuality." There are still strong elements in the government who will fight to keep that provision. I suspect they could gather enough votes to keep clause 13 with the support of very larger numbers of Ugandans who are anti-homosexual. One admittedly unlikely but potential source of support might come from major religious groups who provide AIDS health care and other services to AIDS victims or sex education to youth an adults. I admit this is a slim hope.

The Future.
In a few weeks or months parliament will vote to kill the bill as it is and consider what to do with the remaining provisions. Of course an underlying difficulty for those who accept homosexual equality and freedom, are the extremely conservative attitudes and cultural norms in Uganda and much of Africa regarding patriarchy, family, and sex. The Roman Catholic Church and most "mainline' Protestant denominations will be caught in the middle, while Evangelical Christians and Muslims will support the conservative population.

See the following articles on the recent events in Uganda:
"Uganda's Ugly Anti-Homosexuality Bill is Almost Dead"
"Is Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill Dead?"

See also my previous posts about Uganda:
UGANDA: Homosexuality and the Church
UGANDA UPDATE: Homosexuality and the Church
UGANDA UPDATE #3: Good news, sort of...

NOTE: The photograph in this post is a picture of Mahmud Asgari, 16, and Ayaz Marhoni, 18, who were sentenced to public execution for being homosexuals in Iran. 18 July 2005. What happen to these young men may be avoided in Uganda.

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