New bill to further criminalize homosexuality in Uganda

January 3, 2010

The new bill, introduced by David Bahati of the governing National Resistance Movement (NRM), will raise the penalty for engaging in homosexual acts from 14 years to life imprisonment, allow the death penalty for some homosexual acts (those involving a minor, disabled or HIV positive persons), and allow those who counsel or support homosexuals to be jailed for up to seven years. No one has been convicted under the existing laws.

According to BBC, the law has divided political actors: the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRC) and the Minister of Ethics and Integrity support the bill; whereas 17 local and international rights groups oppose the new legislation (unclear how many local, how many international).  Sweden has threatened to withdraw its $30m of budget support, and the Commonwealth has urged Uganda to consider its rights record.  President Museveni has not indicated his position, which the BBC suggests is the result of Sweden’s threat.

My question, does donor advocacy on such issues undermine local social movements?  There are many countries that have human rights included in their constitutions–Kenya’s is a cut-and-paste job of the ECHR–but where rights are included without a strong social basis, what are the prospects for their implementation/fulfillment?

BBC article here.

Update: A NYT editorial on the involvement of three American evangelical Christians who gave a series of anti-gay and -lesbian talks to various government officials just months before the recent push for the repressive legislation.


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