State Department Please take action now – LGBT World time for action now as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is about to Pass the Ugandan Parliament; Is Bahati Booting Gays out of Uganda? No he would rather they languish in prison – he told me so!
by Melanie Nathan, 02/08/2012
Today the Ugandan Parliament got one step closer to legalizing persecution in its country. David Bahati, the MP from Nordwa province introduced the Anti-homosexuality Bill into the Ugandan Parliament in 2009. Today it has made a giant leap toward enactment!
After being mulled around in the past 8th Session, the Bill, dubbed Kill-The-Gays Bill is back for the 9th Parliamentary session and could be passed at anytime in the weeks ahead. This would result in harsh penalties for gays and lesbians or anyone perceived to be such in Uganda. What makes the Bill particularly insidious is the possible death penalty and the fact that employers, teachers, parents, siblings, friends are expected to turn in gay people or they too will suffer criminal consequences.
Yesterday I reported that Bahati told me on the phone that the government will immediately start arresting those who promote homosexuality as soon as the Bill is law, which he is certain will happen. He said there is majority support for his Bill and he has no doubt of its passage. The Bill was read in its original form and any changes will be introduced later. The death penalty could be watered down, but it is not certain yet. However life in prison is a strong possibility for so called “offenders” of what would then be the crime of homosexuality.
CNN is finally reporting this and somehow while I was able to contact people in Uganda, they never received a response:-
“It’s alarming and disappointing that Uganda’s Parliament will once again consider the anti-homosexuality bill,” said Michelle Kagari, the deputy Africa program director at Amnesty International. “If passed, it would represent a grave assault on the human rights of all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
A Ugandan government spokesman did not respond to CNN requests for comment.
If the Bill passes it will cause LGBT people with HIV/AIDS to have to go underground, it will cause lovers to have to live even more cautiously than they already do under the present laws of criminalization, for “acts against the natural order.”
President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton have already warned the Ugandans about the passage of the Bill, through international and domestic statements, memos and behind the scenes communications. However the Ugandan Bahati, who is leading this effort, is defiant. Bahati told me, “Uganda is a sovereign country, and we will not be blackmailed by your people or by the West.”
When the Bill reappeared yesterday for the start of further readings and process through the Uganda Parliament, Ugandan activists started to show signs of panic, as they are desperately trying to find plans for survival. Some are considering leaving the country and others want to stay. Yet protesting is absolutely out of the question.
And so while the Anti- homosexuality Bill is back in the 9th Parliament and its passing is seemingly imminent the world, cannot sit back and watch as this hateful law breaches the most basic of human rights which is to live one’s life according to one’s sexuality in one’s country of birth, in happiness and peace.
After this Bill passes Uganda will leave its place as a viable force and economy in the region. Through its decision it will have made the choice to turn its back on what the western global economy expects of its trade partners and friends.
“Its provisions create far reaching and serious consequences and implications, all negative, for an entire Ugandan society including parents, teachers, families, religious leaders, health service providers, friends! We must all stand up and say NO to this Bill NOW! WE UGANDANS WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS!” Said an anonymous commentator from Uganda.
The process in parliament could look something like this – The first reading has taken place; the second and third reading can take place on the same day. The committee chair tells the Speaker that a report is ready on a bill. The Speaker schedules the bill on the order paper (agenda). The bill comes up according to the schedule and is read for the second time. The House becomes a committee of the whole to discuss the bill and the recommendations. After changes are agreed to then the House committee as a whole recommends the bill be read a third time and it is passed into law.
This is a members private bill and President Museveni can return it to the Parliament but he cannot veto it. He can return it twice and then after a month, it becomes law, even over his objections.
To my way of thinking we have about two weeks to bring this matter to the world stage in a big way, to tell the Ugandan people that this is simply wrong. The question is how do we as a gay community in the world do this?
There is great risk of backlash for whatever plan or route we choose. However, what could be worse than the impending BILL? At this point I truly believe this is a nothing to lose situation. Regardless of how the Ugandans spin or pretend to water down the legislation.
Uganda’s activists, LGBT community, Clergy and LGBT organizations will be a target and they will lose their ability to congregate together, to make plans, to provide services to LGBTI people in need. The NGO’s that service gays will cease to exist. All the LGBYI people in Uganda have will be us pushing for them in the LGBTI global community and this is what we must do:
Ask the US State department for a swift and expedited contingency plan to bring LGBT asylum seekers from Uganda to the US; and other Western countries to do the same. This would mean something different. usually an asylum seeker has to make his/her way to foreign soil, then seek refugee status and then apply for asylum. To apply for asylum by going to an embassy can take years in application and the asylum seekers is expected to continue to live in the same turmoil and life and death circumstances until approved.
This must change. There must be a special departmental or congressional plan for Ugandans who want to leave Uganda now! There government has turned against them and they must be protected before they are subjected to the inevitable arrests.
2. Boycotts and Protests
Ugandan interests must be protested with immediate effect. I personally am going to be protesting Banking interests, such as Barclays Bank, Tourism and Starbucks which carries Ugandan coffee. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1661227,00.html I ask you all to join me. Watch out for press releases and my tweets at @melanienathan1.
We can show Bahati and his followers that just maybe our US dollars are important. Bahati told me he is not worried about Tourism because Uganda was voted best International African destination last year (not sure by whom – but he seems to think that is all they need.) I recommend South Africa as a destination for Safari in Africa at least there they have an all inclusive constitution that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
When Jews became the target of Hitler, other Jews from around the world did what they could to transport and assist Jews to leave Germany and other European countries. We must do the same for our LGBT brothers and sisters. The U.S., U.K. , Canada, Israel and other EU countries should be offering transportation now to LGBTI persons who want to escape Uganda, before they are declared criminals and unable to escape. Right now there is free will and anyone can leave; but once criminalized in the system it will be impossible to get those people out, as local sovereignty will prevail once the bill is law.
So as much as this may seem shocking, it is real and action cannot wait. I implore the US Department of State to start making a plan and to put its words into action. To stop deporting Ugandan gay people back to Uganda, to implement special procedures, and rules and to a implement a strategy now for the Ugandan LGBTQI community.
As for me, I am a lone person without funding, an advocate and writer. But I am going to do my bit and that is to organize protests and help comfort my brothers, sisters and gender neutrals as much as I can from afar.
PLEASE SIGN BOTH PETITIONS-
Please sign my Petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Uganda-stop-kill-the-gays-bill-NOW/
Keep an eye open for protests near you and how you can help. In the meantime you can start making signs and posters and gather your friends go on down to the UN , Uganda House in New York, Embassy in DC, Starbucks, Barclays Bank and make a noise!
Yesterday I approached representatives of the Mayors office in San Francisco and a member of the BOS to start a San Francisco resolution/ boycott process against Uganda at first calling on them to stop the Bill. I doubt that will help, but it is important especially if other communities do the same.
My Earlier Articles last week and yesterday:-