First published in the Boston Globe on Saturday, 11 February, 2012
David Bahati reintroduced anti-gay legislation in the Uganda parliament, to a standing ovation. Photo image: Ronald Kabuubi/Associated Press
WHEN Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in Geneva at the International Human Rights Day last year, she sent a strong warning to countries passing anti-homosexuality bills that US foreign aid would be tied to tolerance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The message was received with both anger and jubilation.
For the LGBT community, it was an outcome of months of lobbying. Within African countries that abhor the idea of gay rights, it was viewed as another imposition of the United States’ continued policing of sovereign countries. Homosexuality is banned in 37 African countries.
When talking with Rachel Maddow back in 2010, Bahati argued that his bill had been tabled to defend family values and the children of Uganda. But he did say during the course of the interview that he was willing to drop the death penalty clause.
Mourners attend the funeral of murdered gay activist David Kato on January 28, 2011. Photo: MARC HOFER/AFP/Getty Images
Uganda is once again in the international spotlight, and not for the right reasons. The infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill that was dropped by the cabinet last year has resurfaced. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda. “It would introduce the death sentence for anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time, as well as for gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV,” as this report by AFP explains. It also prescribes the imprisonment of family members, employers, or landlords who do not report “offenders” to the police.