New developments to the extreme state-sponsored campaign of terror against gays and lesbians in Uganda. As predicted: President Yoweri Museveni—who only recently declared European gays were recruiting in Africa—backpedals on assurances that he would block or veto the proposed draconian Anti Homosexuality Bill. The legislation would mandate the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality". A spokesman tells the AP that Museweri will not block the bill because he is, well, not a "dictator".
Museveni will not try to block the bill, his spokesman Tamale Mirundi said Thursday, although he did say the president would attempt to convince his National Resistance Movement Party, which has a majority in parliament, to not support it. "President Museveni cannot block the anti-gays bill," Mirundi said, saying that if he did so "he will have become a dictator." Mirundi added that Museveni does not support homosexuality but thinks the bill goes too far. "He believes that we should not have an extreme position," he said. "We have to consider the position of our foreign partners. For them they don't mind about homosexuality in their countries but here many people don't accept it."
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson told DC Agenda that he received "several" assurances from Museveni "that he would stop progress on the anti-gay bill."The bill is currently with Parliament's Committee on Legal and Parliamentary affairs. Members are scheduled to begin public hearings after Christmas break.
The Anti Homosexuality Bill is expected to pass with some revisions, namely, the death penalty being dropped for life imprisonment. Says rabidly anti-gay James Nsaba Buturo Ethics and Integrity Minister: "We now think a life sentence could be better because it gives room for offenders to be rehabilitated. Killing them might not be helpful."
Finally some very good news: Uganda's main opposition party has come out against the Anti Homosexuality Bill. "In an announcement carried by Uganda’s independent Record TV, Secretary General Chris Opoka of the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) denounced the bill as discriminatory, saying 'the state has no business with what people do in their bedrooms." Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin adds: "This is very significant. Prior to this announcement, it had been widely assumed that the bill would pass Parliament with a near-unanimous vote. Any opposition to this bill had been seen as political suicide."
Major props to Opoka and the UPC. Their stand takes courage in an extreme anti-gay climate such as Uganda.