By Melanie Nathan, April 27, 2023.
In reading his letter addressed to the Ugandan Parliament, it is clear that President Museveni seems to have received the message that it would be dangerous for Uganda's global standing to criminalize people for simply being or identifying as LGBTQI. In a most unusual move, Museveni has sent the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023, passed in March of this year, back to Parliament, accompanied by a letter asking Parliamentarians to clarify that HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR will be criminalized while identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT), will not be criminalized. This may overtly seem like a mechanism to subdue the enormous international outcry against Uganda, where the United States and other countries have threatened to withdraw certain aid, enforce sanctions, cancel military trainings and more. Museveni is also aware that the Act as it stands will probably not make it through Constitutional Court when challenged, which advocates in Uganda have promised to do. However what perhaps Museveni does not realize is whichever way we look at this new KILL THE GAYS BILL, carrying the death penalty for so called "aggravated homosexuality," it is entirely unacceptable for a lot more reasons than the clarity he is seeking per the content of his letter.
The West must stick by its resolve to do all it can to thwart this law, while balancing many complexities in its attempt to do so. Museveni has not questioned the death penalty. That is surprising because that is most contentious. Also the Mandatory death sentence as written does not conform with existing Ugandan law and so could render the ACT unconstitutional.
When viewing the below Ugandan TV report, one can see that even the Parliamentarians are opposed to what Museveni is asking for, as noted by Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, MP for Kira Municipality: "What Museveni wants contradicts the Bill itself."
One only had to listen to the Parliamentarians debating the Bill at time of passage to understand that they want to eradicate all LGBTI people from Ugandan. Hence the idea of criminalizing simple being LGBTI is very much in line with their purpose. And they do not need Museveni to assent. Because this is a Private Member's Bill, all they need is a two-third majority vote if the President refuses to assent.
Yet, Museveni seems to be contradicting himself in this quest she seeks from parliament. He too has called publicly for the eradication of all homosexuality in Africa and the world. And we all know that if he and the Parliamentarians truly mean this, it is less about the behavior and more about the identification and being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. This next step is going to be very interesting ..... and scary. How will Parliament react?
All the while Uganda's LGBTI community continues to hide and flee, with many reporting to African Human Rights Coalition with evictions, firings, blackmail, attacks, assaults, and arrests.
Regardless of the Legislation's status, it continues to enhance and license an already very dangerous anti-homosexuality climate in Uganda and the surrounding region. Even if these clauses change, nothing will change the fact that through "life in prison" and "death penalty", life for LGBTQI+ people will be threatened, whether prosecuted thereunder or not, and as bad is the fact that the new law licenses the extreme violent persecution currently suffered in the mere wake of its initial passage. SEE THE MUSEVENI LETTER BELOW
Ugandan activists have called for the outcry. We must keep the pressure.
View Uganda's Parliamentary session when it receives and reads the letter here on YOU TUBE.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCHDRSePmP0 THE LETTER