Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
The US embassy assessed President Kibaki to be in good health and firmly in control while Prime Minister Raila Odinga is depicted as a politician who would put his presidential ambitions ahead of reforms.
Leaked diplomatic cables offer the most comprehensive portrait yet published of the two men who have been at the heart of the political scene for the last decade, President Kibaki and PM Odinga.
Based on diverse sources including US envoy’s meetings with the pair and interviews of their closest associates, a picture emerges of the coalition leaders that is sometimes hardly flattering because it is significantly different from the popular perception of them.
President Kibaki is cast as a man in control and in full health, despite his occasional appearances in public which create the impression of a hesitant and disengaged leader.
Mr Odinga in turn is described as a pragmatic politician who agreed to the post election coalition arrangement despite considerable pressure from allies.
But both men come in for severe criticism, some of it delivered by their most trusted aides.
Mr Odinga is depicted as a politician who has placed his own presidential ambitions ahead of the fight for reforms, despite his public pose as a champion of the reform effort.
The PM is also criticised as an ineffective leader whose office is beset by wrangles and incompetence, which he appears unable to deal with.
President Kibaki is described as a figure under siege from close allies and hardliners and as a man who knows about the corrupt ways of his key ministers but is unwilling to act.
State House and the Prime Minister’s office dismissed the contents of the cables on Friday evening. Presidential Press Service head Isaiya Kabira said the profile of Mr Kibaki painted by the cables was contradicted by the president’s record.
“Anybody criticising the President’s reform credentials needs only to examine the achievements recorded under his watch. He has helped revive institutions that were on the verge of collapse, streamlined the way government is run and the whole process of reform culminated in the endorsement of the new Constitution, which is a charter that offers the most comprehensive blueprint for institutional reform in the nation’s history. The President is now trying to consolidate that record by supporting implementation of the new Constitution.”
Dennis Onyango, communications director at the Prime Minister’s office, said the cables were inaccurate and had been given attention they don’t deserve, especially considering they are “basically stolen information.”
“The PM understands that US foreign policy is not made on the basis of what is contained in these cables so he isn’t really paying that much attention to them. As to what the US thinks of the principals, Kenyans understand the President and the PM are much more complex than the picture being portrayed in the cables. The Principals deal with many more people and if all were to give their assessment, a picture would emerge of much more sophisticated leaders.”
The entire batch of cables leaked by whistle-blowing agency WikiLeaks and made available to the Saturday Nation reveals the most candid thoughts of diplomats, ministers and top civil servants, who freely spoke to US embassy officials believing that the conversations would never be revealed outside official American circles.
One of the most forthright descriptions of Mr Odinga is given by one of his main allies, Lands minister James Orengo.
US ambassador Michael Ranneberger met both Mr Orengo and head of Public Service Francis Muthaura in mid 2009 to press them to push Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga to speed up the process of reforms. In his meeting with Mr Ranneberger, the Lands minister shared his frustration with the PM.
“After I reviewed the state of play along lines similar to those I employed with Muthaura, Orengo admitted frustration about the slow movement on the reform agenda. He said that Prime Minister Odinga must bear substantial responsibility for this. Orengo made clear his view that Kibaki and his people do not favour far-reaching reforms, but at the same time, he said, Odinga has not been forthright in driving implementation of the reform agenda. Odinga has done nothing to reorganise his office to make it more effective; Odinga is a poor manager who does not follow up; and he is primarily focused on preparing for his presidential run in 2012, Orengo said. Odinga has avoided bold moves because he is hostage to his difficult political constituency, Orengo said. In essence, Orengo concluded, Odinga wants to maintain support from the diverse elements of his Orange Democratic Movement coalition, and that means he has pulled his punches on issues like the Special Tribunal.”
Mr Ranneberger followed up those comments with a critical assessment of the PM’s office, saying his secretariat was inefficient in comparison to that of Mr Kibaki, which served to weaken Mr Odinga.
“Odinga has weakened his own authority and effectiveness by surrounding himself with an incompetent and divided core team in the Prime Minister’s office. This has contributed greatly to his inability to work effectively to build his own authority within the coalition government. For whatever reason, and despite urging from us and many others to do so, he has refused to shake up his team and remains ill-served by them. As a result, the positions he takes publicly and privately are inconsistent, erratic and often amateurish.
Kibaki, on the other hand, is surrounded by an astute political team and thus far has run circles around Odinga. Odinga has also lost considerable support throughout the country because of the perception (and reality) that he has not energetically pursued the reform agenda which he advocated when he ran for President.”
Mr Odinga’s partner in government, President Kibaki also comes in for criticism. Former US ambassador William Bellamy describes talks he held with the President, advising him that the US had issued a visa ban against a senior minister due to corruption involving security-related corruption.
Mr Kibaki is described in the October 19, 2005 cable as having appeared to show he knew nothing of the allegations but, according to Mr Bellamy, presidential adviser Stanley Murage told the ambassador that Mr Kibaki “has plenty of evidence, he’s just not acting.”
One of the things that might surprise Kenyans used to President Kibaki’s tired looking and lethargic public appearances is that almost every cable that assesses the President’s state of health in private meetings offers a positive appraisal.
In one cable Mr Ranneberger reports that “Kibaki was well-briefed, articulate, and focused. This and other meetings during recent months indicate that Kibaki is healthy and engaged…He is not the totally disengaged leader struggling with health issues that is sometimes portrayed.”
Another cable states: “During an hour and a half meeting with the ambassador on June 9, at the ambassador’s request, a relaxed President Kibaki was expansive on a wide array of issues. The only other participant was Kibaki’s senior adviser Stanley Murage, who acted as notetaker.”
President Kibaki receives a less glowing assessment on his reform record and his support for comprehensive changes in key institutions.
Mr Ranneberger told his superiors in Washington in a cable on the “state of play” on reforms that “Kibaki and his team are willing to carry out what I would describe as the minimum reform agenda:
minimalist constitutional revision; establishment of a new electoral commission; the establishment of a local tribunal, which they believe they can influence, to hold accountable those involved in post-election violence; and the setting up of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission, among other steps.
Odinga supports these steps, but also wants to carry out more fundamental reforms, particularly through reform of the Judiciary and the police - the two institutions that lie at the heart of the culture of impunity. Odinga is also probably willing to take steps to shake up parastatals to make them more transparent and accountable. Kibaki, on the other hand, has little incentive to undertake these reforms. Both the Judiciary and police report to him, and in the seven years that he has been President, Kibaki has appointed people to head these institutions who are beholden to him. Where Kibaki and Odinga may implicitly share a similar perspective is in not wanting to take steps which could unravel the vast network of corruption, where their interests and those of their families and associates might be compromised. In that regard, each side probably has a lot of incriminating information to hold over the heads of the other.”
Mr Kibaki also comes in for criticism for limiting Mr Odinga’s ability to wield power in the coalition with one dispatch saying the initial room he had allowed the PM had been replaced by an attitude which indicated he felt he could “ignore Odinga.”
The cables also record that President Kibaki predicted a coalition would be formed following the 2007 General Election, despite the fact he felt he would emerge victorious.
Mr Kibaki told US admiral Fallon in a dispatch dated July 30, 2007 that he felt “two or three parties” would form the government after the election, attributing the large number of parties on the political scene to the fact there was a long period of time when opposition parties were not allowed.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
I was not aware until today that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 was first introduce in the Ugandan Parliament on April 29, 2009. This apparently was the first reading of the bill. Hon. David Bahati introduced the bill with supporting comments from Hon. Benson Obua-Ogwal. You can see the following comments on the website of the Ugandan Parliament. Here, I have just provided narrative relating to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Parliament met at 2.35 p.m. in Parliament House, Kampala.
(The Deputy Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, in the Chair.)
The House was called to order.
(About two hours after the House was called to order, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am aware of the matter and it is very important. I am going to give you time. There is a matter he wants to raise concerning the community and I am going to give him time. Let us have that motion quickly, get rid of it and get back to the statement. Afterwards we can stay here till midnight and talk about East Africa and all the other things. I am appealing to you.
Let us hear from hon. Bahati. In connection with the motion he is moving, we have in the gallery Apostle Julius Peter Oyet, Vice-President of the Born Again Federation; Pastor Dr Martin Sempa of the Family Policy Centre; Stephen Langa, Family Life Network; hon. Godfrey Nyakaana; the Mayor of Kampala City Council; Julius, a young boy who was sodomised, and his mother. His story has been in the press. They are all here in the gallery. Please, let us deal with them so that they can leave. There is also George Oundo who came out to speak against homosexuality. Please, let us balance the public good and our good since all of them are important. We shall do them all very quickly. Hon. Bahati.
MR DAVID BAHATI (NRM, Ndorwa County West, Kabale): Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to move a motion seeking leave of Parliament to introduce a Private Members Bill moved under Rule 47, 105 and 106. Some of the few copies available are going to be circulated in a minute. I beg the indulgence of Members that I move on.
“WHEREAS Article 79 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda empowers Parliament to make laws on any matter for peace, order, development and good governance;
AND WHEREAS Article 31, clause (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda legalises marriage between a man and a woman;
AWARE THAT the same Constitution under Article 31 specifically prohibits marriage between persons of the same sex;
AND FURTHER AWARE that sections 45, 46 and 47 of the Penal Code Act create unnatural offences, attempt to commit unnatural offences and the offence of indecent assault on boys under the age of 18 respectively, these provisions do not adequately address the problem of homosexuality;
CONSIDERING THAT there is no comprehensive Act of Parliament that deals with homosexuality and;
FURTHER CONSIDERING that the position of government which is also reflected in the Constitution opposes legalisation of homosexuality;
NOTING THAT the major targets of homosexuality campaigns are the vulnerable youth, children and the destitute;
GIVEN THAT Parliament has enacted its Rules of Procedure, pursuant to Article 94 of the Constitution which also empowers a Member of Parliament to move a Private Members Bill under Rules 105 and 106;
NOW, THEREFORE, this motion is moved that the House grants me leave to introduce a Private Members Bill for an Act entitled Anti-homosexuality Bill, 2009, a draft is hereto attached, and do order the publication of the said Bill in preparation for the first reading.”
I beg to move.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is seconded.
MR LUKWAGO: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am seeking guidance from you. The Bill that the honourable member is seeking to bring here is about homosexuality. As a practising lawyer, I and everybody else here who has taken trouble to read the Penal Code will find that homosexuality is an offence under the Penal Code. The guidance that I am seeking is whether we need any other legislation when the practice is expressly prohibited in the Penal Code, a penalty provided and people are being charged in courts of law? As Parliament, are we really moving on a proper course to legislate on a matter, which is already prohibited under the Penal Code? I seek your guidance, Madam Speaker.
MR ODONGA OTTO: Madam Speaker, in relation to what hon. Lukwago has said, there would be a legal departure from the previous clarification that hon. Lukwago sought when we were debating the FGM. In my legal opinion, in the previous situation you cannot talk of prohibiting because there may be aspects of regulation that have to come in, while taking into consideration the concerns of hon. Seninde.
However, in this case, honestly speaking I have not even seen the draft Bill and I am wondering what the contents will be because the fact remains that homosexuality is banned in the Constitution so I am just wondering what the contents of the Bill would be. I would personally agree with hon. Lukwago’s argument and say that we cannot legislate on everything. In fact, legislation on these sensitive issues will even teach our children about them. So the guidance I am seeking is whether we need an Anti-Homosexual Bill and if we need it, what the contents would be?
THE MINISTER OF STATE, REGIONAL AFFAIRS (Mr Isaac Musumba): Madam Speaker, this country has of late been besieged and is under attack from homosexual advocates and people who do unnatural things to each other. People are even talking about men marrying men. Those practices out there have come in the past two or three years and become so pronounced that our children, and I am a father of several boys, are in danger. Therefore, the statement that is being made by this country is that we should have a law that expressly says no homosexuality will be permitted in this country.
As you ruled earlier when we were discussing the FGM, it is a question of making a statement. Nothing says that if you have a section in the Penal Code you cannot expound on a particular matter in a separate law. There will be no inconsistency and it is something that is permissible under the law. For example, if you read the Penal Code, you will find that we have a problem of the definition of a gay marriage and other unnatural offences. We want a law that clearly states all these things so that we can use it to rid this country of this scourge. I support the motion.
MS ALICE ALASO (FDC, Woman Representative, Soroti): Madam Speaker, this country and Parliament must have the courage to defend its young people, to defend the stability of this nation and to follow the precedents that are already set in this House. It is wrong to steal and the Penal Code provides for theft but before us we have an Anti-Corruption Bill. Why do we have it when that is also theft?
I think we must have the courage to make a statement regarding the influence of homosexuals and the people with money who want to influence our children and mislead our nation -(Interruption)
MR ODONGA OTTO: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The impression that the honourable colleague is giving when she says we need to build courage does not augur well with my understanding. No one supports homosexuality in this House; not even me or hon. Lukwago. What we are raising are the legal aspects; if we needed to legislate on everything we would need a Treason Act, an Anti-Theft Act, an Anti-Lying Act. It is just a legal principle we are trying to push forward. Is hon. Alaso in order to insinuate that others are not courageous when we are defending our profession in public?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I don’t know whether you are tuned to current events here where UNICEF has published and distributed a book in our schools informing children that it is okay to have same sex marriages in Uganda; our children, in this country! She is in order. Please, proceed.
MS ALASO: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. If we went by the argument of the legal experts in the House, how would we handle the publications that are being made on homosexuality? Where do we address matters of rehabilitation because this is a traumatising experience? People need rehabilitation from being homosexuals to get back to normal behaviour. How do we sort out these matters just by a mere provision in the Penal Code? We should be – (Interruption)
MR OGENGA-LATIGO: Thank you, Madam Speaker and I thank my honourable colleague for giving way. I would beg that our learned brothers look at the Bill. It is not about criminalising homosexuality but an anti-homosexual one, which is different even from criminalising, which is already done. “Anti” means that we are going to provide for how we can campaign against it, what we must do with those who promote it, et cetera.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think he has conceded.
MR ODONGA OTTO: Madam Speaker, given what hon. Alaso has said about the need to regulate these people and how to handle them, I concede and abandon my legal issues.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Wonderful!
MS ALASO: Madam Speaker, I want to thank my honourable colleagues because there is also the social context which we have to put into the legal arguments and the provision for regulation. Most importantly as actors, we need to tell people what they should do. What should be the role of an LC I in the light of these developments in our country? I want to support this and urge that let the Bill be given an opportunity; let the leave of the House be given so that this Bill is tabled. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Now move your motion.
MR BAHATI: Madam Speaker, I have laid a copy of the draft Bill but I just wanted to make one or two points in justification of the motion for completeness of the record and to assure our learned friends that the red volumes will never be full at any one time.
I just want to mention one simple case that happened on Easter Sunday when everybody was busy celebrating the Holy Day, we were shocked to read in The Sunday Monitor a headline about an 11 year old boy, Julius, who is here with us in the gallery allegedly being sodomised and expelled from his school and officials from Mulago reported damaged splinter muscles in his anus, which led to uncontrollable flow of human waste. More painfully, Julius’s alleged attacker, Herman Kalule Kirumira was left to go free and has used this opportunity to harass and intimidate this boy and the mother who happens to be a widow.
Reports of this nature have come out in the recent past and I know that for each Julius we read about, there are thousands whose stories are unexposed and never make it to the headlines. Many people have been crying for our help and no more should we be silent about this creeping threat of homosexuality to our children and our families.
There has been propaganda especially in schools and using cartoons to exploit our young people that to be a homo or a lesbian is okay. I think, Madam Speaker, this propaganda is against God’s natural law and the law of the land. We know and believe as Ugandans that any sexual activity outside the bonds of union of marriage between a man and woman is immoral and has never been our culture. Whereas there is an argument that there are people who are born homosexuals and naturally get attracted to people of their sex, there is abundant evidence to suggest that there is no scientific evidence to validate this argument. And many of these supporters say that to be attracted to a person of the same sex is a right. I think we have so many rights in this country and in the world but I do not think that the right to homosexuality is one of them; not at least in Uganda.
Today they are talking about a right to homosexuality, tomorrow it might be a right to walk naked or to defilement. And I think the so called right will lead to the destruction of our social fabric and value system. We cannot afford to see this pass on as we watch.
Madam Speaker, we are working hard for the future of our children but I think we should never forget that the best inheritance we pass on to the next generation is a society built on values and norms that standardize certain responsibilities that make society function. And among these responsibilities is bearing and raising children; being a husband and a father; being a wife and a mother and these responsibilities are undoubtedly God given and specifically heterosexual.
The way independence was a defining issue during the colonial days and peace was a defining issue during the world wars and wealth creation during the great depression, defending the natural and traditional family is one of the key defining issues of our time. As people’s representatives, we cannot afford to tinker on the edges; we cannot afford to be intimidated. Let the message go forth from this House that Ugandans shall never trade their dignity -(Applause)- and cultural values for money or anything whatsoever. This Bill, therefore, provides an opportunity to strengthen our legal system in order to protect our society. Uganda needs a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect cultural, legal, religious and traditional values! We need to protect our children and youth who are being made vulnerable to sexual abuse as a result of cultural intrusion and uncensored information technologies.
The land of the law and the Penal Code do not address this issue adequately and that is why we are bringing this issue to this House. Madam Speaker, as I end, I would like to make one request to this House to grant me leave to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to address this creeping evil in Uganda. And I want to earnestly say that this is the first step, Parliament can do best on the front of the laws. I want to call upon the Church leaders, cultural leaders and the Imams to strengthen their service of teaching and preaching against homosexuality as well as rehabilitating the victims of homosexuality and helping them in finding their true nature as man and woman fully capable and responsible of raising a natural and heterosexual family.
Hon. Members, with your help and that of all stakeholders, we have been developing this with the help of many stakeholders; many of them who are in the gallery have been introduced. The Church of Uganda, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Mosques – the Sheikhs have been with us. We thank the legal department of Parliament and other Members who have contributed to this. I want to promise that with your help and that of the stakeholders, we will come up with a good legislation for which after 100 years from now our children will look back and say, “Yes the Eighth Parliament did something good for Uganda; true Uganda provided leadership on this issue in the world.” I beg to move. (Applause)
MR BENSON OBUA-OGWAL (UPC, Moroto County, Lira): Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the mover of this motion for ably justifying and I stand up to second him. Just yesterday, for those of you who watched NTV Tonight and the late night news, you might have seen an episode which happened in Mukono where a teacher called Ssemondo Simon from Zion Primary School, Nakisunga sub-county told a 13 year old boy to take water to his house and he sodomised him. That was on the 15th of April – this month. Fortunately, this brave boy reported the teacher and he was arrested; he was arraigned before court in Mukono Grade II Magistrates’ Court and Charles Kasidi, the magistrate, remanded him to Luzira until the 14th when this case will be brought back to court for mention.
I am holding The Weekly Observer of this week, Monday 27th to 29th Volume VI No.101 page 14. There is a headline on page 14 which says, “Homosexuality Creeps into Primary Schools” written by Diana Nabiruma. In that piece, Madam Speaker, four pupils from Umar B.A Islamic Centre have been expelled from school for practising homosexuality. Actually one of them was discovered with rotting anal orifice. This is becoming a pandemic and if we allow it to continue we are going to lose. And this makes me pose a question; where is this country going if we allow such acts to continue creeping amongst us.
In America, they call those who practice homosexual activity as straight people and there is an agenda now to overhaul this system. In fact, there is a book called “Overhauling Straight America”, which is a very serious agenda to turn America upside down and make everybody homosexual. I am afraid the strategy that they have developed in that book is already happening in this country and if we are not careful and if we continue to remain silent, we are going to be the losers! I could go on and give you the strategy, which they want to use but there is no time.
The forces behind homosexuality are not sleeping. They are working day and night and yet in this country we are leaving this struggle in the hands of a few people. Dr Martin Sempa has been acknowledged, Mr Steven Langa, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi and other religious leaders. In our own House here, we have left it to hon. Dr Nsaba Buturo. We can no longer afford to be silent observers.
I would like to submit here that at a personal level, the struggle comes down to us. There is no neutral zone in this struggle especially if you are a parent and I know many of you are parents of young children. We need to inoculate our children against these practices. The problem is bigger than we think and diseases are escalating, diseases which we never knew before. There is anal Gonorrhoea which is now rampant, anal Syphilis, Hepatitis C which is transmitted by this practice.
Let me submit to the House that internationally there is a move to force every nation in the world to submit to this vice. And if we allow them to get away with it, we will be the sufferers. The UN is coming up with a political decision which will force every nation to legally recognise homosexuality. That is if what France is trying to sponsor in the UN is allowed to move. They are coming up with a law which makes it criminal for anybody to utter anything against homosexuals. That is coming!
In the commonwealth, which by the way Uganda chairs, on the 8th there was the 16th Commonwealth Law Conference in Hong Kong. This conference was dedicated to the issue of homosexuality and there were so many people who were supposed to be respected like hon. Justice Michael Kirby Ac Cmg – I do not know what it means – who is a Justice of the High Court of Australia, by the way he was also a one time President of International Commission of Jurists.
He submitted a paper entitled, “Homosexual Law Reform: An Ongoing Blind Spot of the Commonwealth of Nations”. In that paper, he was trying to promote homosexuality in the commonwealth. We have a problem on our hands and, further, I would not like to imagine what will happen if commonwealth decides to make homosexuality a legal thing, at a time when Uganda is the chair.
I have heard a few cowardly voices in the corridors which purport that if we do not support homosexuality, then Uganda stands to lose aid. Madam Speaker, I would like to say that we cannot afford to mortgage and sacrifice the future of our children on the altar of aid and that is why we have to stand firm. (Applause) We have oil and very soon Uganda will be a donor in real terms, and we can afford to do without aid if it is pegged to homosexuality.
In conclusion, I want to appeal for support for this motion and I would like to urge this House that we should not fear to act, but we should not act out of fear. We should sacrifice the present for the sake of the future. I thank you.
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Prof. Morris Ogenga-Latigo): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker and I thank my colleagues, hon. Bahati and hon. Ogwal for their motion. I also would like to thank the House for the obvious unanimous support that we have for this matter.
I rise not to add much to what has been said, because the two hon. Members have given the substance and full justification for the motion. My job is first of all to thank them for this motion, to thank you, Madam Speaker, for insisting that it takes precedence even over the matter that was of concern to me. (Applause)
I would like to thank the very courageous Ugandans particularly the individuals who have been victims, who have sacrificed their own ego that normally stops many of us from standing up on matters of serious concern. We know as individuals and families we are deeply aggrieved and we share the pain that you have and the only thing we can do is first of all to do everything possible to ensure that this motion comes as a Bill and as law as quickly as possible.
MR OKUMU: Thank you. I want to inform the Leader of the Opposition that while he acknowledges other people, we should also acknowledge the Archbishop of Uganda, Luke Orombi, for walking away from the Church of England because of homosexuality.
PROF. OGENGA-LATIGO: Thank you. Actually I was coming to that because as the House knows, I am fairly well informed. In fact, the starting point for acknowledging the Archbishop Orombi and many other African Anglican Church leaders was going to start from the very same Observer newspaper that my colleague quoted. I read the newspaper with a whole page where they put two prominent Western people; one is an Anglican Bishop standing with his husband and below that picture was the picture of Sir Elton John, you know the man who sung Candle in the wind when Princess Diana died, with his husband. I was going to come to that and to say if it takes leaving the Church of England so that you can worship your God without the burden of accepting an evil like homosexuality, that would be the greatest thing and I believe that God would be on your side.
I bring the information that hon. Reagan gave me to say thank you very much to Archbishop Orombi and all his colleagues who have stood against homosexuality particularly when the mother Anglican Church began to accept this evil as part of rights, God’s will and I do not know what to say of those who support it. I would like to thank all the clergy men and women who have stood with us, all the politicians, all the civil leaders and I would like to move a motion that the question be put.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I put the question that the question be now put.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I now put the question that this House do authorise the honourable member to move the Private Member’s Bill.
(Question put and agreed to.)
Monday, September 20, 2010
Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe and Frank Mugisha
2009-10-16, Issue 453
There are 4 comments on this article.BAHATI’S 'ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL'
On 14 October 2009 the Hon. David Bahati (MP, Ndorwa County West, Kabale) tabled a private-members bill before the Ugandan parliament titled the 'Anti-Homosexuality Bill'. When it was tabled, the Minister for Ethics and Integrity Dr James Nsaba Butoro made a strong statement in support of the bill and for the greater sanction of individuals and organisations supporting homosexuality. The bill is aimed at increasing and expanding penalties for 'homosexual acts' and for all institutions (including NGOs, donors and private companies) who defend the rights of people who engage in sexual relations with people of the same gender. The bill also calls for Uganda to withdraw from all international treaties and conventions which support the rights of lesbians, gays and bisexuals, introduces extradition arrangements for Ugandan citizens who perform 'homosexual acts' abroad, and includes legal penalties for people who fail to report alleged homosexual acts or individuals and institutions that promote homosexuality or same-sex marriage to the authorities. The death penalty is mandated for HIV-positive people who engage in sex with people of the same gender. The tabling of the bill has been accompanied by threats against any Ugandan media organisation that allows LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Ugandans to air their views or publish press statements.
Bahati’s bill is an alarmingly retrogressive piece of legislation, aimed at legalising hatred against a section of the Ugandan citizenry, but also importantly at controlling and censoring dissent and open public debate. In legal terms, the bill would set a precedent for state authorities to control rights to freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom of association for state and non-state actors. It would also set a precedent for government censorship of internal workplace and other policies of national and international institutions operating in Uganda.
The bill is clearly a diversion from the serious issues facing Uganda’s policy-makers today in the lead-up to the 2011 elections especially around livelihoods; poverty and the lack of jobs; electoral reforms; lasting solutions to the northern Uganda peace process; political conflict; ethnic tensions and the unresolved land question; high rates of violence against children and against women (perpetrated largely by heterosexual men); and the ongoing impact of HIV/AIDS. It also poses a serious threat to press and academic freedom, human rights activism overall, and indeed to Uganda’s commitment to the values of human rights and democracy upheld by its own constitution and by the regional and international systems to which it belongs.
A common claim put forward by homophobes in Uganda is that Western donors and human rights organisations are encouraging the spread of homosexuality in Uganda. Interestingly, what they never admit to is that fact that their own campaigning and mobilisation against lesbians and gay people is itself funded and supported by actors in the West, more specifically the Christian rightwing in the USA. There is evidence to suggest that support for Bahati’s bill has come from extreme-right Christians in the United States of America who are working through allied churches and parliamentarians in Uganda. In March 2009 the Family Life Network, led by Ugandan Pastor Stephen Langa (affiliated to the Kampala Pentecostal Church), hosted a workshop entitled 'Exposing the truth behind homosexuality and the homosexual agenda'. The workshop trainers included members of three American organisations well-known in US Christian rightwing circles:
- Scott Lively, co-founder of the hate group Watchmen on the Walls and author of The Pink Swastika, a pseudo-history book claiming that militant male homosexuals helped mastermind the Nazi holocaust
- Caleb Lee Brundidge, a 'sexual reorientation' coach for the International Healing Foundation, a Christian organisation that aims to 'free' people from 'unwanted same-sex attraction'
- Don Schmierer, a board member for Exodus International, an umbrella body for Christian groups that seek to 'reform' homosexuals using Christian teachings.
Alongside the workshop, the Americans also met with MPs and influential religious actors. The Family Life Network has mobilised through churches across the country to deliver a petition to parliament calling for the introduction of stronger legislation against homosexuality. Bahati’s bill is the result.
It's worth noting that it costs a considerable amount of money, time and processes to table a private-member’s bill, which begs the question of how the MP from Kabale District is financing this process? It has also been common practice for the mushrooming pastors and churches to use homophobic attacks on opponents as a way to discredit each other and sway faithfuls.
CONTENT AND IMPLICATIONS OF BAHATI’S BILL
The tabled bill aims at increasing the scope of laws established in the British colonial era prohibiting 'carnal knowledge against the order of nature' and acts of gross indecency. These articles of the penal code and are already being used to arrest, detain and prosecute Ugandans allegedly engaging in 'homosexual acts'.
Bahati’s bill would establish legal definitions for homosexuality and homosexual acts, include explicit prohibitions for sex between men and between women, reinforce legislation against same-sex marriage, and establish a wider range of penalties for both the performance of homosexual acts and for the support of sexual rights broadly and the rights of homosexuals in particular.
Criminalising the practice of homosexuality
The bill criminalises homosexual acts, with penalties ranging from up to 10 years imprisonment for single acts of homosexual sex to life imprisonment and the death penalty for a category of crime labelled 'aggravated homosexuality'. The latter includes an HIV-positive person having sex with a person of the same gender, and same-gender sexual relations with people with disabilities and with legal minors. The offence of homosexuality includes any person who 'touches another person with the intention of committing homosexuality' (Article 2.c.), an alarmingly broad provision which is open for wide interpretation and malicious use given that the burden of proof is vague.
In criminalising sexual acts between consenting adults, the bill’s provisions directly violate the right to privacy, to equality and concepts of bodily integrity and autonomy.
Bahati’s proposed bill also supports stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive people, and would undermine years of efforts to tackle the epidemic. Uganda has been considered as a 'best practice' leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and has received significant amounts of international support for its HIV and AIDS programming from donors such as the Global Fund for HIV and Malaria. If passed, this leadership status would be put in serious question and has potential to down-roll the stewardship and achievements achieved thus far.
The social implications of the bill are equally problematic. The active persecution of LGBT people would lead to tremendous suffering and violence against people who are, after all, our own family members, colleagues, business partners, political and religious representatives, and friends.
Criminalising the 'promotion' of LGBT rights
Article 13 of the bill calls for up to seven years imprisonment or a monetary fine for any person or institution believed to be promoting homosexuality. Business and NGOs convicted of promoting homosexuality are liable to be de-registered. Article 14 also penalises anyone who fails to report an offence under the act, with up to three years imprisonment or a monetary fine.
The term 'promotion' includes providing office space, broadcasting and otherwise disseminating information and funding any activities deemed to support 'homosexuality and related activities'. Such a broad definition could well be used to close down institutions that the government wants to silence, especially in the run-up to the 2011 elections. For many networks, alliances and coalitions, this bill poses a threat to organising and engaging in general given that it would allow the de-registration of an entire network even if only one member has been found at fault. This is of critical concern as it would enable the censorship of national lobby groups and networks such as the national NGO forums and women's national forums, who as of now are still battling with the repressive NGO Amendment Act. This bill in essence tightens the areas of engagement that were left within the NGO act.
Under the rubric of 'promotion', the bill would legalise the censorship of broadcast and print media and the shutting-down of media houses that support discussion on the issue of homosexuality and equal rights. It would criminalise organisations providing health information for men who have sex with men. It would also require employees and managers in institutions who are aware of the sexual practices of their colleagues to report them to the authorities. Promotion could also be interpreted to include the presence of equality policies that cover LGBT staff. This has implications for any bilateral and multilateral agency in Uganda, as well as the many multinational corporations who have a legal duty to support equal opportunities for all staff. Put simply, if the bill is passed, there is a legal precedent to shut down the operations of Uganda’s bilateral donors, and of foreign corporations from Europe, North America, Brazil and other countries whose own national laws require that they support equality.
By penalising citizens for the failing to report 'suspected homosexuals' to the authorities, the bill calls for the creation of a fascist-style society where family members, service providers and colleagues are made to spy on each other. This is not the kind of Ugandan society that we want.
Articles 16 and 17 of the bill provide for the prosecution of Ugandan citizens who commit homosexual acts, as defined by the bill, in other countries. It even goes so far as to include extradition arrangements, which would require its African neighbours and other countries to send Ugandans home to face prison or even execution for voicing support for LGBT people, or for engaging in consensual sexual acts with another adult. Such extradition powers are aimed at silencing and threatening the bulk of political opponents and dissidents that have hitherto provided alternative voices and engaged on the state of governance in Uganda.
Withdrawing from international legal and policy instruments
In addition to changing national legislation, Article 18 of the bill would oblige Uganda to withdraw from any international legal or policy instrument that contradicts with 'the spirit and provisions enshrined in the Act' (Article 18.1). This would mean withdrawing from any international or African Union instrument that supports equality (which is, of course, at the foundation of all human rights law and most contemporary policy on development). This had major implications for Uganda’s membership in and commitment to international and Africa regional governance and human rights systems. It would also call into question Uganda’s eligibility for funding support for initiatives such as the Millennium Development Goals which advance the 'spirit' of equality. Also, by withdrawing, the bill’s provisions would push Uganda into the category of a pariah state, with implications on the human rights of all Ugandans regardless of sexual orientation.
MYTHS AND LIES
The justification for Bahati’s bill is built on unscientific, unverified arguments around the fact the homosexuals in Uganda 'recruit' people, including children, into changing their sexual orientation. There is no factual basis for the claim about recruiting, which has itself led to scare mongering, hate speech and arrests in Uganda.
The recruitment claims also misrepresent the situation. Homosexuals are not predators. However, homophobic members of society and the state have themselves certainly been systematically marginalising and harassing people named or identifying as 'homosexual'.
The bill states that its primary target is to 'protect the traditional family' (Article 1.1). Here again, the focus of concern is curiously placed on homosexuals and supporters of their rights, rather than on the actual threats faced by Ugandan families day to day, such as the inability of many parents to feed their children and to provide resources for them through all stages of their education. It makes no steps forward in affirming women’s rights in marriage, including comprehensive protections against domestic violence.
The bill states that its primary target is to 'protect the traditional family' (Article 1.1). Here again, the focus of concern is curiously placed on homosexuals and supporters of their rights, rather than on the actual threats faced by Ugandan families day to day, including the unacceptably high rates of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual violence, land and resource-based tensions, breakdown of traditional support and safety nets, the inability of many parents to feed their children and to resource them through all stages of education. It makes no steps forward in affirming women’s rights in marriage including comprehensive protections against domestic violence. Also, the bill in essence can't justifiably claim to strengthen families given that since the 1995 constitution, women and marginalised groups have continued to demand the implementation of existing laws and the expansion of protections against gender-based violence (including domestic violence and female genital mutilation (FGM)). The greatest irony is that for 49 years now the Ugandan Parliament has failed to enact the infamous Domestic Relations Bill (family code) that would protect families!
The bill is, its supporters claim, tabled in the interests of the health and security of Uganda’s children, adults and people with disabilities who apparently are at the mercy of predatory homosexuals. Interestingly, neither Bahati nor one of its most ardent supporters, Minister James Nsaba Butoro, have taken major steps to ensure that the many girl children and adult women sexually abused and raped in educational establishments, at home and in the streets – almost exclusively by heterosexual men – have either access to justice or health and other services to support them. If sexual abuse is their concern, why are they not lobbying for increased funding of women’s crisis centres and legal aid for victims of sexual violence? Why is the Sexual Offences Law still not in place, or indeed a national sexual harassment policy? If the protection of people with disabilities is their concern, why have they not been pushing for the Ugandan government to tackle the broad range of challenges faced by people living with disabilities? How far has Uganda gone beyond enactment of the Disability Act and affirmative action in politics for people with disabilities?
DIVERTING ATTENTION FROM THE REAL ISSUES
All of these questions point to the fact that Bahati’s bill serves as a diversionary tactic. In the run-up to the 2011 elections, many Ugandans are pushing for electoral reforms, the creation of greater space for multiparty political engagement and alternative voices. Part of the diversion tactics are thus to engage the parliament and citizenry in highly emotive 'moral debates', rather than on the real governance issues facing Uganda. The bill is one of a range of such moral debates, all targeting gender and sexuality (including issues such as homosexuality and sex-work) which will predominate parliamentary discussions and leave little or no space for the discussion of electoral law reforms. This bill, if passed, would also be an easy tool to use in the run-up to the 2011 elections to fight political opponents even within Bahati's own ruling political party as a way to 'weed' out dissent in the face of a failure of political parties to regulate their elected members in parliament. The likely targets for this are the young politicians and those who are unmarried or divorced and thus do not fall into the limited, moralistic 'approval list' of Bahati, Butoro and their allies.
WE NEED AN AFRICAN RESPONSE
Supporters of Bahati’s bill are trying to draw on the notion that calling for the imprisonment and death of people who engage in consensual sexual acts with people of the same gender is supported by 'African traditional values'. As Africans we are clear in saying that hatred is not, and has never been, a traditional African value. Our African cultures, in all their diversity, have always embraced people who are different. Our African cultures are also not relics from the past, but are changing and adapting with time. We reject the use of our African identity to support and legislate the persecution of LGBT Ugandans, their allies and anyone willing to consider the right to equality for all. Bahati’s bill is giving Africans a bad name.
As Ugandans we urge our elected representatives to vote against Bahati’s bill as a piece of legislation that would lead to the persecution, suffering and even death of our fellow Ugandans, and a move that could threaten possibilities for continued foreign investment and aid to help develop our nation. As Africans we call on our sisters and brothers to join us in voicing their support for the full equality of all Africans, and for our own national representatives to vote against a bill that supports hatred, social control and violence. This is not just a Ugandan concern. It is an African concern. Join us in calling for a vote against Bahati’s bill.
|STATE OF THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY ADDRESS BY H.E JAKAYA KIKWETE|
SPEECH BY H.E. JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA, TO THE FIFTH MEETING OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE SECOND EAST AFRICAN LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Rt Hon. Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly;
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for inviting me to address this august East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on the State of the East African Community. I also thank the Speaker of the Kenyan Parliament Hon. Kenneth Marende for the warm words of welcome and for the gracious hospitality in allowing the EALA to use this historic chamber of his Parliament.
Let me hasten to say that the East African Community is a vibrant and very strong regional integration organisation. It is ever growing from strength to strength with each passing year. Thanks to the commitment and steadfastness of the people of East Africa, their governments and, we, their leaders including you, Members of the East African Legislative Assembly, for the lofty gains made so far. I look to the future of our Community with a great sense of optimism for even greater successes.
The Customs Union has worked well for all of us so far. I am aware that there is need to do some more work to smoothen matters so as to enable it to attain optimal operational status. Fortunately, we all know what needs to be done, in this regard. I have no doubt in my mind that we will surely do the needful and get where we want to be. The only thing that is required of us is continued commitment and dedicated service to make things happen the way we want them.
The second is about how to make our region a single customs territory whereby duties for imported goods are paid at the port of entry. This way evasion of tax that could be done by some unscrupulous importers in the name of transit goods could be avoided. I am aware that elaborate systems should be put in place so that the revenues that are due to the nation where goods are destined are expeditiously and duly remitted by the collecting nation.
I am aware also that some have done so already and some have even gone further and deposited the instruments of ratification with the Secretary General of the East African Community. I am quite confident that come 1st July, 2010 the East African Common Market will be in place.
Under the Tripartite arrangement, plans are being made to hold an Aid for Trade Conference to identify potential resources for the development of these three corridors. A new Corridor is also under development linking the new Port at Lamu with Juba in Southern Sudan and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. I am aware that the Kenya Government is at an advanced stage in securing funding for implementation.
DROUGHT AND FOOD SECURITY IN EAST AFRICA
Many of our people had to suffer the indignity of begging food as their means of livelihoods were entirely destroyed. This year, the rains are good and in some parts they have been in excess thus causing floods and their resultant damages. There will be good harvest in many areas that suffered the drought. However, the adversities we faced during 2009 were a grim reminder of our vulnerability. We need to improve on our disaster preparedness, ensure food security and pay greater attention to the environmental threats and its direct effect on the quality of lives of our people.
The other challenge which proved to be a major threat to the economic wellbeing of our countries and people was the global economic financial crisis and slowdown. None of our countries was responsible for this problem but, we suffered adversely and continue to suffer from its effects. We have suffered from declining demand and low prices for our export as well as low tourist arrivals and low revenues as a result, GDP growth declined to less than projected.
We were faced with the daunting responsibility of rescuing and assisting the affected sectors and businesses a matter which we could not do much. There is some glimmer of hope but the great challenges remain ahead of us. We have to remain watchful. I suggest that we, in the East African Community need to find time and discuss this problem and agree on the common course of action going forward.
POLITICS AND DEMOCRACY IN EAST AFRICA
It is challenging because we have to ensure that the elections and referendums are conducted in a manner that they will be free, fair and peaceful. Experience has shown that many countries in Africa have degenerated into political crises and violence after elections. Partly this is precipitated by flaws in management of the electoral processes – but, also because some people are yet to embrace the culture of accepting defeat and acknowledging winners.
I understand that, over the years, the EALA has participated in election observation in the Partner States and contributed to the quest for strengthening democracy in our region. I also understand that the EAC Council of Ministers will examine an Electoral Observation Manual for EAC. This is a good development which I fully support. I am of the view, however, that the time has come for the East African Community to consider developing common principles and guidelines governing democratic elections in our region and ensures their observance.
CRITICAL ISSUES, CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD
The second critical challenge centres on better planning and implementation of regional programmes. It is opportune that we have just embarked on the preparation of the 4th EAC Development Strategy (2011-2016). We need to ensure, therefore, that the Strategy focuses on well selected objectives which are SMART; that is to say they are Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Sometimes our resource deficit is compounded by our strategies which are very broad and unfocused. The late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere taught Tanzanians one good thing about that “Kupanga ni Kuchagua” which literally means that “to plan is to choose”. Let us be guided by this mantra in developing the 4th development strategy.
Last but not least, we need greater political will and popular participation in the Community. This involves a multi-variety of interventions by the broad spectrum of EAC stakeholders on aligning national visions, activities and strategic plans to regional integration objectives and goals. The overriding principle of a people centred integration demands that the East African regional integration process be owned by the people for it to have relevance and chance of success. As we move into the Common Market, a number of challenges will emerge requiring broad based stakeholder consultation. Our Community is people-centered so, let us make sure that we pursue broader participation in every step of the way.
AVOID DANGER TO OUR COMMUNITY
In fact, it is lack of mutual trust and confidence among the Partner States, that ensured because of that which precipitated the demise of the former East African Community. We must guard against repeating that mistake again. I know, there may arise differences among us but let’s find better ways of working them out. And, the best way is to sit down and talk about them. We should avoid making public statements against each other which will poison the goodwill and kill the existing spirit of brotherhood and cooperation. We must know that we cannot move forward this integration project in an atmosphere of bad faith and mistrust.
Also, as partners in a joint endeavour we should not rejoice at, or partake in engineering the setbacks of our fellow members. And, we certainly do not have to be despondent at, or downplay, the triumphs of our fellow members. If we let these things take hold, we will just move with our integration on paper, but we will have left behind the hearts and minds of our people and of our own. We will have failed as leaders because we will weaken the noble institution we are trying to build with dire consequences. We cannot afford to fail this time around. We should all say, Never and Never Again”.