Uganda Still Considering Death Penalty for Gays
We’d reported last week that Uganda was on the verge of passing the death penalty for gay people and anyone who “helps” them be gay, such as landlords, or parents who refuse to report them to the police.
Following that news, many in the mainstream media believed the Ugandans’ claim that the death penalty part of the legislation had been dropped. And of course, as always happens when Uganda says it’s dropped the death penalty part of the bill, the media dutifully reports it as true, and then we find out that the death penalty is still in the bill.
It’s like Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football – except in the end they all die.
Half a Billion in US Aid to Uganda Annually
As I’d noted at the time, the US provides Uganda nearly half a billion dollars year in assistance, and it’s going to be increasingly difficult for Washington to justify handing over a dime to these modern-day Idi Amins while telling Americans that we simply must cut Social Security and Medicare because there just isn’t any more money.
Yeah there is. About a half a billion a year in Uganda alone. It may not make a dent in the larger deficit, but I think I can sleep at night (provided, of course, we make allowances for AIDS funding – though even that may be jeopardized by this new legislation, more on that in a moment).
US Expressing Concern to Ugandan Counterparts
The good news, as it is, if that the US government seems to be grasping the seriousness of the situation. This is from a State Department briefing today:
QUESTION: Do you have anything to add to what – the Uganda answer you gave yesterday? Has there been any more contact, do you know, between – since Ambassador – since Assistant Secretary Carson was there on this – the anti-homosexuality law?
MS. NULAND: Just a little bit more on Assistant Secretary Carson’s conversation: He did talk to parliamentary leaders and to President Museveni very directly about our concerns, the concerns of the international community. Our understanding is that President Museveni certainly took onboard the fact that this could have a serious impact on the way Uganda is perceived, the way Uganda is supported in the international community. There are many hoops for this thing to go through, as you know. I think yesterday we said that the bill had passed the parliamentary committee. My understanding is that’s incorrect. It hasn’t even gotten to that stage. So we just need to continue to highlight the issues.
Right, and as Chris Johnson noted in the Blade article I linked to earlier, the fact that the legislation hasn’t gotten that far yet means that they couldn’t have yet removed the offending language, which they were apparently claiming they had.
Even Without Death Penalty, Ugandan Bill Is Still Hideous
Of course, even if they drop the death penalty provision, the legislation is still hideous. Jim Burroway, of Box Turtle Bulletin, has really shined as the American expert on this particular legislation in Uganda. And Burroway told me by email that even if the death penalty provision is dropped, it won’t change the underlying bill nearly enough.
The rest of the bill is still so draconian that dropping the death penalty really doesn’t change much. Especially if the death penalty is merely replaced with life imprisonment. Is lifetime imprisonment in Uganda’s notorious Luzira prison that much of an improvement?
And lifetime imprisonment as a “homosexual,” or just as bad, a homo-lover. You’ll be lucky if you live a lifetime – or perhaps lucky if you don’t.
Burroway also points out another troubling aspect of the bill – it’s impact on anti-AIDS efforts in Uganda:
Remember, it also outlaws “aiding and abetting” homosexuality and it also outlaws “promoting homosexuality,” meaning that all AIDS programs targeting the gay community will be outlawed, all advocacy for or on behalf of gay people will be criminalized with prison sentences, along with, potentially, doctors and lawyers. The 24-hr reporting requirement is still there, the “don’t rent to gay people” provision is still there, etc. Remember, the death penalty is only one of the nineteen clauses.
So a gay Ugandan’s landlord will still go to prison for renting the room to them, but if they’re “lucky,” they won’t be put to death for it. Same goes for mom and dad who don’t report their gay child to the government.
Ugandan “Death for Gays” Effort Lauded by US Religious Right
And just as sick, America’s hate leaders in the religious right – the folks who are regularly welcome on all the TV networks and are greeted as simply “Christians,” are lauding the “death to gays” legislation in Uganda. Scott Wooledge over at DailyKos caught this from the Family Research Council’s Gary Bauer:
Interestingly, a number of people in Washington, from Dana Milbank to an NPR reporter, have defended Bauer against accusations by the Southern Poverty Law Center that his organization is a “hate group.” But what else do you call an organization that hates gays so much it sides with people who want to put them to death?
More later today on the Republican party’s extensive ties to the most extreme anti-gay elements in Uganda.