There are widely circulated reports that the death penalty has been stripped from the bill. These mainstream media reports, from outlets like Associated Press, Reuters and others, are almost certainly in error.
With the definitive headline, "Uganda's anti-gay bill won't contain death penalty," the Associated Press repeats claims from the bill's lead sponsor:
Parliamentarian David Bahati said the bill, which is expected to be voted on next month, had "moved away from the death penalty after considering all the issues that have been raised."Mainstream media have repeated these claims credulously, even though there is already a long history of of these very same actors lying about these claims in the past. I guess they figure if you can't trust the author of a genocidal bill, who can you trust?
"There is no death penalty," he told The Associated Press.
(Continue reading below the fold.)
Jim Burroway is perhaps on of the most meticulously sourced and credible activists reporting, compiling and relaying news of Uganda, at his site Box Turtle Bulletin. He responds "AP Is Wrong: Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Still Has The Death Penalty."
But despite these latest reports you’ve read — or the fifteen or more before them, the death penalty has not been removed. That can only happen when or if the full Parliament decides to vote on the Legal and Parliamentary Committee’s recommendation to remove the death penalty from Clause 3. And that will only stand the greatest chance of happening if the Legal and Parliamentary Committee actually recommends making that change — which its members claims was done but can’t show you the committee’s draft report because its a “secret.” Which should be a red flag the size of North Korea’s because the last time the Legal and Parliamentary Committee claimed it recommended removing the death penalty, it actually did no such thing.This is reporting that has been substantiated by the U.S. State Department to the Washington Blade:
U.S. officials offered a different account about the status of a draconian anti-gay bill in Uganda on Tuesday, saying the legislation had yet to move out of committee and disputing earlier media reports and State Department comments by saying the panel is incapable of removing the infamous death penalty provision from the legislation.Essentially, the state department and activists do not believe the bill could have possibly gone through the necessary parliamentary procedures that would have been necessary to remove the death penalty since its introduction. But tracing that trail is hard work, why not just report what David Bahati says and call it a day?
In an email to the Washington Blade on Tuesday, an informed source at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala said the bill is still in committee. That contradicts media reports on the bill — which imposes a penalty of life in prison for homosexual acts — that indicated the Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committee had reported out the bill last week.
Ugandan activists affiliated with All Out organization and the Ugandan Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law who sent out a press release calling for international attention and activism on this bill, saying:
It is clear that none of the provisions have been changed from those of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009. It is still the “Kill the Gays Bill’! The report of the Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committee has still not been released.It's bad enough that the AP is credulously repeating the damage control, PR spin of the author of a genocidal bill, it's unforgivable they'd done so without independently confirming their sources. What's worse is there is a long history of bill proponents lying about this very topic (Burroway includes and exhaustive, meticulously source 15-point timeline from Dec. 2009 to June 2012, on exactly this point).
With, or without the death penalty, this bill is an abomination
Bahati and allies successfully muddying the conversation to whether the death penalty applies or not, has been a great distraction from the reality that, executions or not, this law is an abomination of human rights, and due process of law either way.
Burroway's post on 19 different clauses of the bill reveals it's a nightmare of vaguely defined "crimes" that could apply to virtually anyone, and are virtually impossible to disprove, once accused. How does one deny "attempting to commit homosexuality"? How do you disprove in court that you made a pass at someone?
Another clause preemptively pardons anyone of any crime they commit "defending themselves from homosexuality." In other words, more than state-sponsored genocide, this is a legal license to kill anyone who is, or is suspected of, or accused of being LGBT. Holding a grudge against someone and want to murder them? Do it and just claim afterwards you were "defending yourself from homosexuality." It's the "gay panic" defense married to "stand your ground" and on steroids.
There are requirements family members, doctors, lawyers and even landlords must report suspected homosexuals and threaten them with prison if they do not.
Pity the Ugandan parents who love their gay children and would be compelled to turn them in or risk prison themselves.
American Faith community response
On Wednesday, the American Jewish World Service released a letter of condemnation calling the bill "an abhorrent violation of human rights" and "a grave threat to civil society in Uganda."
Whenever basic human rights such as equal treatment under the law and the rights to safety, assembly, association, expression and privacy are denied, we are compelled to speak out.Meanwhile, the America the Christian evangelical community is openly cheering with glee. Major leaders of Christianity, including Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association and Scott Lively of the Abiding Truth Ministries, are openly cheering the bill's imminent passage.
The most tragic chapter of Jewish history provides a bitter lesson that the stripping away of human rights from specific minorities is often a precursor to the targeted destruction of oppressed people.
It shouldn't be surprising, the American Christian evangelical community's role in the concieving and rallying support for this bill have been very extensively well-documented by The New York Times in 2010, and elsewhere. Michelle Goldberg of The Daily Beast relays investigations by Warren Throckmorton, an evangelical psychology professor once associated with the "ex-gay movement," who has now had an epiphany and critiques and tracks of the movement (emphasis mine):
he saw that Lively, Caleb Brundidge, and Don Schmierer were joining Langa to put on an ex-gay conference in Uganda, he took notice. “Here these guys are going into a place where it’s already dangerous to be out as gay, and illegal, and they’re going to try to make it worse?” he says.So Lively spread his insane conspiracy theories that have no basis in reality, and shortly afterward, newspapers are printing names and photos of suspected homosexuals with the headline "Hang them."
He soon learned that Lively had been going to Uganda since 2002. The author of The Pink Swastika, Lively is more than a simple opponent of gay rights. Taken together, his bizarre but influential books The Pink Swastika and The Poisoned Stream constitute a kind of Protocols of the Elders of Zion of homophobia. The former claims that Nazism was primarily a homosexual phenomenon and that the modern gay-rights movement is its direct descendent, a “homo-fascist phoenix” risen from the ashes of World War II. The latter purports to trace the machinations of “a dark and powerful homosexual presence” through “the Spanish Inquisition, the French ‘Reign of Terror,’ the era of South African apartheid, and the two centuries of American Slavery.”
Lively is currently facing accusations of human rights violations by Ugandan activists in U.S. federal court in association with his activism in Uganda.
Not since slavery has Christianity been perverted to such unwholesome ends.
Rich Cizik, president, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, was among 23 faith leaders signing a July 2012 letter condemning the legislation:
As American Christians we recognize that groups and leaders within our own country have been implicated in efforts to spread prejudice and discrimination in Uganda. We urge our Christian brothers and sisters in Uganda to resist the false arguments, debunked long ago, that LGBT people pose an inherent threat to our children and our societies. LGBT people exist in every country and culture, and we must learn to live in peace together to ensure the freedom of all, especially when we may disagree.Also signing was Thomas P. Melady Former U.S. Ambassador to Uganda and the Vatican. A pdf can be found here.
We condemn misguided actions that have led to increased bigotry and hatred of LGBT people in Uganda that debases the inherent dignity of all humans created in the image of our Maker. Such treatment degrades the human family, threatens the common good, and defies the teachings of our Lord – wherever it occurs.
These are welcome but too rare voices from the faith community, many of whom are noticeably silent, like Rick Warren, who has strong ties to Uganda.
The Catholic Church is a powerful force in Uganda, which is about 85 percent Christian and 42 percent Catholic, and where they control some powerful purse strings from American Catholic collection plates. On Nov. 27, the USCCB announced a $1.2M grant to Uganda:
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa approved 49 grants to 16 episcopal conferences and 4 regional associations of the Church in Africa for a total of $1,226,500. The subcommittee approved the grants during the USCCB’s General Assembly meeting in Baltimore.Reached for comment on this story, Don Clemmer of the The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said it would not be the place for the United States conference to comment on Ugandan matters, and provided a referral to Ugandan Bishops. We already know where Ugandan Catholic Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga stands. The Archbishop was was among the faith leaders who signed a letter renewing the call for the bill's passage in June 2012.
The SOS statement distributed by Ugandan Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law included the following suggestions:
Campaigns, peaceful demonstrations including Ugandan embassies, oral public statements, written statementso, pen letters, calls to your national elected leaders to exert the necessary pressure on the Government of Uganda, calls to celebrities you know who may be willing to make a public statement, calls to major print and visual media to encourage them to cover the story – and complaints if they do notIt's said by many the renewed push to pass this law is merely an effort by Ugandan leadership to distract from other military, political and financial corruption scandals (included but not limited to oil scandal, massive corruption, aid to Congo rebels, their role in Somalia). These scandals are prompting the United Kingdom and Germany, among others, to suspend foreign aid.
But that is cold comfort to the citizens on the ground who will suffer for this ill-conceived political demagoguery.
As we learned in the Nuremberg trials, soldiers will do as they are told.
One problem we face in bringing that pressure this time around is that prominent right-wing Americans like Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, and Bryan Fischer, head of the American Family Association, are openly praising the Kill the Gays bill. We need to make sure their voices are downed out by a massive denunciation from the rest of America, so that President Museveni knows what is at stake if he caves and signs this murderous legislation.Please, sign the petition from Daily Kos and CREDO Action imploring Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to veto the "Kill the Gays" bill. We will deliver the signatures to the Ugandan embassy in Washington, D.C.