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Uganda: President Says He Will Block Anti-Gay Bill

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda, Human Rights, Law, LGBTQ+, Politics

Uganda's proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 [1] still awaits a final decision by the country's Parliament, but the country's Daily Monitor newspaper reported Wednesday that President Yoweri Museveni has “assured the US State Department of his willingness to block the Bill” [2]:

President Museveni has reportedly assured American authorities that he will veto Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s proposed anti-gay law, a position that breaks with his recent stance and the statements of officials in his government.

Activists gathered outside the Ugandan Mission to the United Nations in New York City in November to protest the bill.  Photo courtesy of riekhavoc on Flickr. [3]

Activists gathered outside the Ugandan Mission to the United Nations in New York City in November to protest the bill.
Photo courtesy of riekhavoc on Flickr [3].

Blogger Gay Uganda points out the contradictions in the Ugandan government's messages [4] to the West and to Ugandans themselves:

You remember the article about the President confirming to the Americans State dept that this bill will not become law?

Well, he says that to Americans. This is what the Govt in Uganda says to Ugandans.

Government’s anti-gay stand stays, says minister [5]
In a statement issued yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa said the government does not support the promotion of homosexuality “just like we cannot promote prostitution.”

AfroGay speculates that the Ugandan government believed it could get away with the bill [6] because world leaders have other things on their minds:

As in 1999 when Museveni himself ordered that gays be arrested and jailed [7] in what was clearly an ill-thought-out throwaway [again the donors intervened and Museveni beat a hasty retreat [8]], MU7 thought that the Bahati bill would be a side issue in these times when Obama is engrossed with the Taliban, Gordon Brown is a lame duck and there is no one else taking Africa that seriously apart from the barracuda-like Chinese. But the truth is that Obama and Europe are happy to take Uganda on because it is an easy target compared to, say, China. Hillary Clinton said it the other day that you don't handle China the way you do a third world country and that was her way of indicating indirectly where exactly she puts Uganda in the pecking order.

In another post, AfroGay discusses what might be happening behind the scenes [9]:

So, even if they are now being deliberately vague about it, the government has a view about the bill. And their view is that it is terrible for their international standing and funding. The convulsions are not over yet. Bahati has been emboldened by the attention he has received, and he is clearly reveling in his fifteen minutes of fame. So, he will likely not acquiesce easily. But twist his arm the government is going to. Look out for a new clinic in Bahati’s constituency, promises of this and that to the people of Ndorwa and he might even be promised direct funding of his campaign for reelection. What Museveni wants in Uganda, Museveni gets and I predict that the bill will be a shadow of its former self by the time it reaches the floor of Parliament – if it ever gets there.