AND TO FORCE NEGOTIATION
By Melanie Nathan, April 18, 2023
On March 17 Uganda's Parliament passed The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023, otherwise known as THE KILL THE GAYS BILL. It provides 10 years to life in prison, criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults, LGBTQI+ people and their relationships, and so called promotion of homosexuality. It also provides for the death penalty for so called "aggravated homosexuality" and 3 years in prison for CHILDREN caught in homosexual acts.
Well if you think that Uganda's passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act hit a low in scapegoating gays - it just hit a lower low with this bit of reporting by The Observer. AND if you think Uganda is positioning itself to give the finger to the U.S. or force it into negotiations on the oil pipeline issue -
HERE IS THE SUGGESTION - OR IS IT THE TRUTH - OR SPIN - VERBATIM:
"Uganda hurriedly drafted and passed the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) of 2023 last month to publicly hit back at her harsh American and European critics for endorsing overwhelmingly a European Parliament resolution against the development of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, insider government sources have suggested.
The EU Parliament resolution condemned the pipeline’s damaging effect on the environment.
“The bill was a protest by the Ugandan government against the European Union Parliament for passing a resolution against the development of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline project due to its purported effect on the environment,” an insider familiar with the government’s facilitation of the bill’s passage said in an interview.
“Since European and North American countries believe in environmental protection and protecting sexual minorities, Ugandans also believe in African culture, which has no room for homosexuality. The bill would bring them back to the negotiating table.
This was a calculated move. Kampala wanted to inform Brussels and any other leaders in North America that they were bound to loose something that they believed in, like the protection of sexual minorities. Before the bill was passed, we did all the dry runs and evaluated the worst-case scenarios of its passing. Unlike the previous bill, this one found us ready,” an insider interviewed by The Observer said.
Until today, the final investment decision (FID) into Uganda’s $4.5 billion oil refinery has not been announced. Sources point to the hoarding of funds by potential companies, citing the poor corporate image that the resolution of the EU parliament on investment in Uganda’s oil and gas sector comes with.
The passage of the bill on March 21, 2023, drew international condemnation. The loudest voices came from international organizations like the United Nations, and the United States of America and Europe, among others.
The bill recommends punitive measures, which include life imprisonment for people who identify as gay in Uganda and 10 years’ imprisonment for attempted same-sex conduct, etc. In their March 29, 2023, statement, the United Nations Human Rights experts called the bill an egregious violation of human rights.
They urged Uganda’s president not to promulgate laws that take aim at and further criminalize people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), and those who support and defend their human rights.
In a March 22 tweet, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “The anti-homosexuality act passed by the Ugandan parliament yesterday (March 21, 2023) would undermine the fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We urge the Ugandan Government to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation.”
Responding to Blinken, a government of Uganda account quoted an excerpt from President Museveni’s 2014 interview with CNN, which read, “If the West doesn’t work with us because of homosexuals, then we have enough space here to live by ourselves and do business with other people.”
The stance was indicative of the ‘bold decision’ that Uganda had made against homosexuality. Sources within Uganda’s diplomatic community have told The Observer that the real reason for passing the bill was far from protecting children from being recruited into homosexual activities.
“The children were used as an emotional mask to drive a moral panic among Ugandan parents. Ugandan children were being recruited into homosexual activities; we needed a law to protect our children. Who wouldn’t support such a law?” the insider source said.
The source said events in Kampala that led to the passage of the bill prompted the immediate replacement of an ambassador from a United Nations Security Council member country. The ambassador was accused of toeing the line of Kampala at the expense of the home country’s interests.
Despite the urgency of passing the bill, the president seems reluctant to assent to it. Subject to Articles 91 and 262 of the Constitution, the president is required by the Constitution to act within 30 days after a bill is presented to him or her.
The parliament of Uganda first passed their homosexuality bill on December 20, 2013. Amidst so much fanfare, Museveni assented to the anti-homosexuality law on February 24, 2014. On August 1, 2014, Uganda’s Constitutional court annulled the law. At the time, the court ruled that the bill was passed by MPs without the requisite quorum and was, therefore, illegal.
Lawyer Andrew Karamagi argued that the relationship between Brussels and Kampala is duplicitous and fraught with the selective application of the rules.
He said, “I think that the AHB is a political theater—the real story lies in the realpolitik of the opportunism that defines relations between the regime in Kampala and its pretentious foreign backers in the West.”
“Both sides are in bed together even when they occasionally fight over a pipeline or a draconian law like the AHB. The EU benefits from the relationship they have with Uganda in terms of intelligence, military, and economic interests, and this will be the case whether Uganda is a democracy or under a dictatorship. The ruling group in Uganda benefits from the existing relationship in terms of legitimacy, budget support, and narrow business interests that do not speak to the broader public interest of Ugandans,” he said.
“Both sides are happy; the relationship is symbiotic. Like a married couple, they might fight occasionally, but the EU shouldn’t expect us to believe that they are “concerned” about human rights in Uganda when the rights of sexual minorities are violated—yet thousands of political prisoners remain in unlawful detention more than two years after the botched 2021 election. Gen. Museveni knows this, and that’s how he exploits the relationship for his greater political interests.”
Karamagi added that he didn’t think the end of the ambassador’s tenure had anything to do with domestic legislation such as the AHB.
“In the 15 years between 2008 and 2022, Museveni’s administration passed about a dozen undemocratic amendments and laws, including on money laundering, terrorism, NGOs, the right to peaceful protest, so-called computer misuse, anti-pornography, and several others! This country did not raise a finger. Why would they think that a government, that could pass such terrible laws like the Public Order Management Act, and attempt to amend the Constitution to take land without compensation, would spare the rights of sexual minorities?”
He prayed that the United Nations Security Council countries stop hunting with the hounds and run with the hares."
And so be it - while all this babble and spin abound - the bottom line is Uganda's LGBTQI+ community is currently being hunted, threatened, physically attacked and forcibly displaced. With very few coming to the table to help deal with the casualties. There are few paths out. Uganda's LGBTQI+ community is seeking safety. At African Human Rights Coalition we receive numerous communications every day to include known human rights defenders, seeking mentorship, paths, guidance, safe shelter, relocations, financial assistance. There is only one other organization assisting people to leave the country, but they are asking people to first obtain visas, an impossible task for most, and with a backlog that can take months to clear, only few seem to trickle out through in tat model. The only quick path seems to be crossing borders into neighboring countries and then applying to register as refugees through the UNHCR system. This is fraught with problems as the neighboring countries also criminalize people and are hence hostile hosts, with limited abilities to protect.
AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION continues to establish safe shelters and provide oreination to LGBTQI+ refugees in these countries. We are operationally unfunded. We do this work pro bono. Our emergency funds are running low. Donations can be made HERE.