It is likely that Ugandan President Museveni will sign the Ugandan Anti-homosexuality bill into law, while still holding his cap out to the word for aid, says Robert Buchanan.
The Ugandan parliament has passed its infamous Anti-homosexuality Bill, meaning queers, or people suspected of being so, face life imprisonment. MP’s still await Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (pictured) to sign the Anti-homosexuality Bill into law, but it seems almost a given that he will, with his aids calling it “a Christmas present”.
Taking a leaf directly from Vladimir Putin’s book of political misdirection, President Museveni is manipulating his people in a transparent attempt to create an “enemy within”, a ready-made target to distract a crippled and despondent people from revolution against their government.
Lets take a look at some of the multitude of social issues the Ugandan government is failing to target while it pursues this witchhunt. Human rights abuses such as torture, death squads and local militias committing extrajudicial killings are commonplace. In 2012 a report by the US State Department found 170 allegations of torture against police, 214 against the UPDF, one against military police, 23 against the Special Investigations Unit, 361 against unspecified security personnel, and 24 against prison officials, and all of that within a nine month period. When brutality like this is routine a popular revolution or coup is usually only one riot away; however with the people distracted by queer boogiemen the government can rest easy.
Possibly the greatest underlying scourge for the people of Uganda is poverty, with 37.7% of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. Uganda was ranked 140th out of 176 nations on the Corruption Perceptions Index. Ugandan women occupy an almost uniquely subservient social status in this country, where 84% of the population is Christian. As is typical in third world nations it is the women and young children who bear the brunt of everything, from malnutrition, backbreaking manual labour and exposure to diseases such as HIV. The literacy rate in Uganda is a good reflection of this – 76.8% male and 57.7% female. 6,000 women die each year due to pregnancy-related complications. Infant mortality rate is 61 deaths per 1,000 children, which is hardly surprising with only eight physicians per 100,000 people.
Instead of confronting these brutal conditions the Ugandan government is choosing to persecute innocent people and their families whilst simultaneously risking the withdrawal of badly needed aid from Western nations who now must morally must consider discontinuing funding a country which seeks to imprison people for life, for merely touching with same-sex intent. Gay Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has commented that the passing of this Bill is not even legal, saying “The new anti-gay law violates Article 21 of the Ugandan Constitution and Articles 2 and 3 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights – both of which guarantee equal treatment and non-discrimination to all people.”
There have already been countless deaths in Uganda caused by the scourge of homophobia, which is often backed by the Catholic Church. One recent, high profile horrific murder was that of LGBT rights campaigner, David Kato in 2011. He along with several others were outed Joseph McCarty style in a Ugandan magazine. David was hacked to death.
This year President Museveni accused the EU of promoting the evil of homosexuality, whilst simultaneous holding out his cap, accepting aid money. Museveni is at the centre of several national and international corruption scandals. According to the US State Department “the country annually loses 768.9 billion shillings ($286 million) to corruption”. Much of the funding Uganda gets from the US is to cover their troops stationed in Somalia and other border territories.
If the Ugandan government will not listen pleas for equality and human rights, then extending sanctions and withdrawing military aid may well get them where it hurts.
In the same month that the eyes of the world turned to Africa, to mourn the passing a man who stood up for all human rights, this draconian, inhuman law represents a dangerous regression to a new Dark Age in African civil rights. It’s safe to say the late, great Madiba would be turning in his grave.
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