Dear Friends in Uganda,
THE UGANDA ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL, NO 18, 2009.
I am Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay, Pastor of House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Lagos Nigeria.
I write these comments in my capacity as a religious leader with the MCC and also human rights activist in association with my position as executive member of the Pan Africa International Lesbian And Gay Association.
I am extremely horrified by the attempts of your government in Uganda to outlaw homosexuality, this is tantamount to the killing of homosexuals in the concentrate camp during the Nazi German days. The real criminals in my mind are the collaborators and sponsors of this bill.
Whilst homosexuality has been denied and objectified as an abomination against culture and religion in Africa, we are left with little thoughts as to the criminality of the minds of those who are considering death penalty for homosexuals.
Legal restrictions of homosexual people and or practices do not stop homosexuality, they just make homosexual peoples’ lives more dangerous and vulnerable to other abuses.
In my country Nigeria, twice anti-Homosexual bills were introduced whilst they are injurious and in breach of every international human rights treaty. At home and in international arenas, Nigeria has continued its campaign, openly calling for killing people who engage in homosexual conduct. At the UN Human Rights council in September 2006, Nigeria ridiculed “the notion that an execution for offences such as homosexuality and lesbianism is excessive” the Nigerian diplomat said it “may be seen by others as appropriate and just punishment”. This analogy shows extend at which our legislators will go to alienate homosexuals using every legal means available. What they have done is to disregard a proportion of their population who need protection against criminality.
These attempts make me more defiant and determined to support the cause of LGBT people in the continent.
I write to give you my support and know that we shall continue to make all the necessary representations at all levels and continue to stand up and speak out against these extreme brains.
In my attempt to comprehend any reasoning behind these bills or interpretation or understanding of the Ugandan Anti Homosexual Bill, I am sure that this is the evil we need to fight.
I ask that fellow religious people and organizations/movements that are inclusive, welcoming and affirming to LGBT people, should not only pray but understand that we need to “Put on the full armor of God so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against powers of dark world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6:11-12.
Please note my comments below;
CLAUSE (1.1) BROAD PRINCIPLE of the bill seeks to provide; ‘Legal protection of the traditional heterosexual family based on collective cultural, religious and traditional values of Uganda by prohibiting same sex relations”
Homosexuality has always been part of the human culture, homophobia and hatred as we know it today is the violator. Prohibiting same sex loving relationship will only spell more danger and further push underground the government’s responsibilities to take care of LGBT people.
This attempt of passing this bill is criminal in itself and I feel that the Ugandan people should stand up against this outrageous bill. Equally, there should be laws protecting vulnerable homosexual people from sexual predators, these people according to the provisions of the bill as considered victims, they are likely to be consenting adults, who under interrogation might make a plea in order to be classified victims.
Homosexuality historically has been part of the human culture and often celebrated in religion, then it must be part of the traditional values, we must continue to look at the changes effected in the global south, such as Nepal and India to embody the changes for African nations.
To deny the existence of homosexuals on the basis of religion is inaccurate and due to the difference of views and biblical interpretation in Africa, the government has not taken time to listen to all parties before the irrational introduction of the bill.
The government of Uganda felt that there is a need to fill gaps, these are attempts to re introduce tyranny, which Uganda has experienced in her history owing to civil wars and ill ruler ship of the Idi-Amin regime. The gaps in the penal code have been strongly criticized by the Human Rights Watch Report, “This Alien Legacy – The Origins of “Sodomy” Laws in British Colonialism”, which calls for the repealing of the British penal code which Uganda continues to rely upon as legitimate.
In my view, there are no gaps in the Penal Code of Uganda on homosexuality, the Human rights position is to repeal the offending code which came to the shores of Africa with imperialism during colonialism, the world have always existed and so has homosexual practices, historians need to be kind to homosexuals and good people need to stand up, speak out for the well being of marginalized people.
I also call on the religious communities throughout the world to speak out against this bill. It is our duty to do what is good, what the Lord requires of us, to do justice, love mercy/kindness and walk humbly with God.
We have examples in the global world of politics where such bills are used against opponents in the bid that they would be silenced in politics, because of stigmatization and shame, however, this bill if passed to law will only punish the poor, divide families, cripple businesses and those unable to defend themselves. It will further empower the privileged such home/land owners, and employers, it will provide unconstitutional powers to law enforcement agencies and increase the lack of protection to LGBT people against crimes in Uganda.
The government cannot think without the democratic process, the question is has the government held a public debate for the rationale of this bill? How much consultation was done with those affected or likely to be burdened, how much liaison has taken place with human rights defenders and practitioners in Uganda and elsewhere?
“A need to put a law in place” this is likened in attitude of many African government it is okay to criminalize homosexuality, when was the last time that a bill is rush to protect the public treasury from being looted by the same government that speaks of such hatred?
CLAUSE (2): THE OFFENCE OF HOMOSEXUALITY
1. A homosexuality offence is:
Penetration of anus, mouth or stimulation of sexual organs of another person of the same sex by a penis, object or any sexual contraption 2(1)(a)(b)(c).
If homosexuality is an offence and it is based on religion, then we need to look at the radical development of laws against other groups, “Adulterers, Drunkards, Swindlers, Slanderers, Prostitutes etc”. This shows the weakness of this bill, it seem that no offence would have been committed if this happened between a man and woman, how do we deal with the complication of gender reassignment. This will further complicate the lives of transgender people. The bill in my opinion is centered on Patriarchy. Does the law against Adultery stipulate life imprisonment or death? What would Jesus do? Would Jesus discriminate against homosexuals?
I strongly believe in the laws of God, “the Greatest Commandment”. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” Matthew 22:34-40
In the bill, penalties for committing aggravated homosexuality is stated as “Death sentence” and further requirement to undergo HIV test to ascertain one’s HIV status once charged with aggravated homosexuality 3(2)
The penalty against homosexual convicts would range from life imprisonment to death, the bill, in my estimation has failed in its analysis of providing evidence. What will family members do about their homosexual children and family members? Is Uganda preparing an onslaught of about 10% of its population?
If you have been previously charged with homosexuality according to this bill, you will be in prison for life, so reoffending is going to be difficult, because the homosexual convict is likely to have been executed. This bill does not describe the issues of homosexuality as we understand it, it can only be described as sentimental. Homosexuality for many is about companionship, love and relationship. Is it possible to test this bill with any of the parliamentarians’ family member who may be a homosexual person?
This bill described victims; the real victims here are the people trying to live their lives in a hostile nation and also have to contend with this new bill. The homosexual people are law abiding citizens and tax payers, contributors to the African nations and can be found in representation in all works of life, there is no doubt those this bill intend to criminalize also work in the Ugandan parliament.
Clauses 4 to 14, is extremely discriminatory and it will affect the poor and defenseless people the most. It also provides unjust powers for the detention of any persons on suspicious of homosexuality which can fuel acrimonious and malicious abuse of authority.
The sentence of life imprisonment and or death overrides the punishments listed in these clauses and there is a danger that this bill will be more detrimental to the lives of the rest of society that it intend to protect.
Clause (15) On the issue of JURISDICTION, places where offenders can be charged, Courts in Uganda, it is my hope that the Jurisdiction of the courts in Uganda in the absence of malice and corruption are prepared to implement the rule of law and make radical decisions not based on political agenda, it is my hope that any case tested and decided would be based on its integrity with evidence, this would be an attention-grabbing standard to set if this bill becomes law.
CLAUSE (16): Extra-territorial jurisdiction (provision to penalize offenders outside of Uganda), I am not sure how many countries in the world will co operate with the Ugandan government on the provision of this bill as they would immediately be collaborators of criminality and perhaps be in breach of their own human rights laws and commitment to International treaties.
CLAUSE (17): Further to the clause of Extradition, the bill claim that,
outside of Uganda (people who commit this offence will be brought back to Uganda for trial) Uganda government have not worked out the process of this implementation and this provides a shortsightedness of the extradition process in international laws. The Uganda government in my opinion is meddling with international laws, how they plan to force international governments to extradite Ugandans who have fled for the same reason of which these laws seek to criminalize. In the United Kingdom, South Africa and Canada where there are laws to protect homosexuals and to a large extend has provision of Civil Partnership/Gay Marriage, it would be incomprehensible to conclude that these countries will release citizens who have taken advantage of these progressive laws only to be extradited for prosecution and possible execution.
Finally, the bill states that; Any international law that contradicts the spirit of the Bill will be considered null and void in Uganda. This is clearly in contravention of the spirit of the democratic international community, Uganda has risen to the scale of an inhumane nation, if they will go to this extent to punish homosexuals, and goodness knows who is next on the line.
The Uganda Homosexual bill is outrageous and it would not hold firm, I believe that those with the problem are the legislators and those who considered drafting such an outrageous and draconian bill. The bill shows the height of dictatorship, patriarchy and authoritarianism
I have never seen anything so outrageous in my entire life, I believe this bill is anticipated to drum up political power and support from ignorant people, this is almost the return of tyranny.
I want to encourage all LGBT leaders of Uganda, allies, human right defenders and others. LGBT people, friends, families need to march out to parliament and demand their rights. This is the time that we need to work with the LGBT people, their families, allies and other marginalized groups or communities to ensure that the government understands the lives of LGBT people as up to 10% of the entire population are homosexuals and or sexual minorities.
Also I ask that all LGBT human rights groups, organizations and movements around the world participate in calling for a cancellation of this bill with immediate effect.
Revd Rowland Jide Macaulay