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British Government: Kill-the-Gays Bill Sponsor Banned if Bill Passes

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Just off the heels of the last week’s Senate vote condemning the Ugandan Anti-homosexual Bill comes the news this week that the UK plans to ban the bill’s sponsor MP David Bahati from entering the country if the bill is passed.

From The Guardian:

Civil servants in the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development and the Borders Agency are drawing up plans to block the visa of born-again Christian MP David Bahati if he does not drop legislation that would see consenting adults who have gay sex imprisoned for life and impose the death penalty on those with HIV – which will be called “aggravated homosexuality”.

The move is the most recent rebuke from the British Parliament toward the Ugandan government. Earlier this month, 118 British MPs publicly dencounced the homophobic legislation. Speaking for the group of MPS, activist Peter Tathcell said in a statement, “Even if the death penalty is dropped, the Bill will remain unacceptable. It will still violate the equality guarantees of international human rights agreements.”

This seems to be confirmed in today’s news:

The British government is concerned by a wave of anti-gay sentiment sweeping Africa that has also put pressure on homosexual people in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Nigeria.

Read about that uptick in violence here.

The issue appears to be coming to a head in the UK’s Parliament. The Guardian article also says an “unnamed” senior British official has said the issue could become a “major diplomatic incident if the Ugandans do not back down.” It goes on to report that the Ugandans seem to be using stalling tactics to delay passage of the bill until next year, especially amid the intense international pressure to kill this bill.

Box Turtle Bulletin says these “stalling tactics,” if indeed true, confirm reports that the bill is most likely not to receive a vote.

But with President Yoweri Museveni’s bid to extend his twenty-five year rule for another five years, the bill could be resurrected at any time if Museveni decides it is to his political advantage.

Dead or not, the American government should show its support for the British government’s moves.  The Senate resolution was a welcome step, but we need this vote coupled with executive action. The State Department can show solidarity with its British counterpart and give Bahati the same warning.

Let’s go one step further and issue the same warning to Museveni, too!

I’ve been told that the State Department is preparing to review the entire continent’s human rights record, a reportedly unprecedented effort. It is thought that this review should result in solutions to get various African nations to adopt more tolerant and accepting policies toward LGBT Africans. Homosexuality is currently illegal in 37 countries across the vast continent.

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Key Senate Committee Speaks Out Against Uganda Anti-Gay Bill

April 14, 2010 1 comment

In case you missed it today, the Senate Foreign Relations committee passed a resolution by unanimous consent late last night that calls on Ugandan legislature to kill the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently under consideration.

From the HRC Back Story blog:

The Senate Resolution, introduced by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, expresses the United States government’s “unequivocal” opposition to the proposed Ugandan bill. Stressing the “universality of human rights” and the bill’s potential to undermine U.S. efforts to combat HIV/AIDS globally, the resolution calls upon the Secretary of State to more closely monitor human rights abuses that are motivated by sexual orientation and to encourage the repeal or reform of similar laws around the world. Next, the resolution will need approval by the full Senate.

This is great news as it means the United States Congress is one step closer to officially rejecting that bill on moral grounds. It is, however, just a resolution and has no kind of enforcement language included. There is a similar resolution making its way through the House.

It is encouraging to see language in the resolution that calls on the president and the Secretary of State to better monitor the continent for human rights abuses. Despite its lack of any kind of real effect, this resolution does bolster arguments made here and the rest of the blogosphere that American foreign aid should be withheld from any country that systematically persecutes minorities of any kind. It provides the kind of of leverage needed to apply more pressure to the administration to act.

Start pressuring!

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Anti-gay Evangelist Publicly Condemns Kill-the-Gays Bill

April 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Sometimes it’s true that it is better to be late than never.

Yesterday, Joyce Meyer , of the Joyce Meyer Ministries, sent an email to her supporters and followers condemning Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. Meyer has followers the world over, including an office in Uganda, and has the messaging power of other huge evangelicals such as Joel Osteen and Rick Warren.

Meyer is certainly no friend of the gay community and has been outspoken about her objections to the “homosexual lifestyle.” Still, Meyers criticized efforts made in God’s name that would persecute other human beings.

From Meyer’s statement:

It is increasingly evident that the proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” introduced in the Ugandan parliament is a profoundly offensive, dangerous and disturbing attack on the very foundation of individual liberties and human rights afforded not only to the good citizens of Uganda, but on the at-large global community.

If enacted, this hostile legislation will also further, and adversely, serve as a major setback in the global health efforts to combat Uganda’s AIDS epidemic and reduce the record-high infection rates among the country’s HIV population, an already at-risk community that could be further ostracized, threatened, and targeted as potential criminals.

The call to stop this bill is certainly welcome, especially given Meyer’s star power and influence. A more responsible preacher of God’s word, however, would have come out against this bill sooner, especially since it seems the bill may be going nowhere fast. Just last Monday, a group of 118 British Members of Parliament slammed the Ugandan government for entertaining passage of this legislation.

In a motion drafted in part by U.K. gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, the group of MPs called on the Ugandan government to drop the proposed legislation, claiming it violates the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights. The motion further calls upon the Ugandan parliament t to decriminalize “same-sex acts between consenting adults in private, and outlawing discrimination against gay people.”

Then there were reports filed Friday that members of a key panel in the Uganda legislature did not see passage of the bill happening.

“I think it is useless and will not achieve what it intends to achieve,” said Alex Ndeezi, a member of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee tasked with reviewing the bill before it can be presented to the house.

The panel’s chairman Stephen Tashyoba said the draft law was not a priority.

“As far as I am concerned, we really have more urgent matters to discuss like electoral reforms, which are already behind schedule,” he said.

I’m glad Meyer has finally stepped up and that lawmakers are responding to international pressure to kill this bill, but I’m afraid that the damage has been done.

It will be a victory if this bill does indeed fail, but anti-gay fervor has been whipped up by the bill’s author, David Bahati and Martin Ssempa as well countless news outlets and law enforcement agencies. People in countries all over Africa have of late been encouraged to report their fellow citizens suspected of being gay. In some cases, it seems that acts of violence have been condoned. Worse is the American involvement that has been instrumental in fomenting this homophobia.

Once this bill in Uganda is dead, the real challenge will be changing hearts and minds and teaching acceptance.

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