How Anti-Homosexuality Bill boosted gays agenda in Uganda

Mr Mugisha receives one of his many awards for “bashing” his motherland over gay rights. PHOTO BY AGENCIES

What you need to know:

Self-interest gone too far? Many gay rights activists in the West are willing to capitalise on anything at home to paint a negative image of the country just to win them credit. The writer argues, many of them sadly win awards.

Thanks to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Uganda’s homosexuals continue to awe the Western media, politicians and human rights groups, no doubt the very opposite of what MP David Bahati intended to achieve when he tabled his Private Member’s bill in 2009.
Their most famous leader Frank Mugisha has won a number of awards, the most recent ones being the prestigious 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, issued to him by the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights in Washington DC on November 10, 2011, and the Rafto Foundation Prize for human rights in Bergen, Norway.
Most interesting are the award citations that normally follow these prizes. If read before the mention of Mr Mugisha or the Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) of which he is the executive director, one might think he is reading the citation for the Martin Luther King 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

Following the RFK award for example, Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy and president of the foundation, wrote an extensive tribute to Mr Mugisha and SMUG in the Huffington Post, arguably the most read online liberal publication in North America, in which she credited him with the “sacrifices” he is making on behalf of SMUG. In the article, Ms Kennedy repeats the usual inaccurate innuendos the gay community in America has eternally imprinted on Uganda’s image abroad as a “gay killer” country.
The citation from the Bergen-based Rafto Human Rights Foundation also repeated the same inaccuracies. After describing in detail the ‘dire situation’ in which Homosexuals live in Uganda, and describing the key clauses of the Anti Homosexuality bill, the foundation declared thus:

“By awarding the 2011 Rafto Prize to SMUG and Frank Mugisha’s fight for sexual minorities, the Rafto Foundation wishes to underscore that human rights encompass everyone and that it is unacceptable to persecute or discriminate against anyone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

According to these organisations and popular belief in the West, mainly propagated by liberal and gay-affiliated news organisation and the so-called “Ugandan Gay Community”, there is timeline on which Anti-Homosexuality Bill can be traced. But these are standard talking points one would likely find in a typical SMUG PowerPoint presentation in front of a gay or gay friendly audience which might take place in Connecticut, New York or Los Angeles.

The ironic contradictions
As MP David Bahati, the proponent of the Bill has always explained, most of these assertions are purely incorrect. The most absurd of them is that American evangelicals have shaped our beliefs against homosexuality. Really? What these people fail to tell the world is that most Americans are themselves fiercely opposed to homosexuality and the federal government itself, through the Defence of the Marriage Act (Doma), which was passed by a liberal democratic president Bill Clinton in 1996, refused to recognise same sex marriages.

The Doma unequivocally defines marriage as that between man and woman (it should be laughable that Americans would need a congressional fight to be told an age old truth). Proposition 8, which was like a referendum on whether to legalise same sex marriage in California, was roundly rejected by voters. Note that California, is the most liberal state in America, perhaps after New York.

President Obama, who has called the Uganda gay Bill “odious”, has repeatedly stated that he is opposed to gay marriage, even though being a politician with a desire to win the second term he ironically also says he supports “gay rights”.

‘Baseless utterances’
Most of the acts he has done as president to pander to the far-left wing of his party including repealing the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that banned open expression of same-sex behaviour in the US Military are all superficial acts to win over the gay voting bloc. Hard core senior military generals mounted spirited opposition to his move and the DADT, though ‘repealed’ is essentially still in force.

In a December 22 high-profile New York Times Op-ed titled “Gay and Vilified in Uganda”, Mr Mugisha repeats the same over-recycled allegations against his own country, in which he adds some even more absurd statements that are not true at all. In the article, for example, he writes that: “More benignly, if people are still single by the time they reach their early 20s, what Ugandans call a “marriage age,” others will begin to suspect that they are gay.”

This is hogwash. With more Ugandans spending more time at school and tightening economic conditions, who doesn’t know that marrying in late 20s and 30s is a very normal thing in Uganda these days?

Even after the Uganda Police concluded investigations which failed to link David Kato’s killers to homophobia and court appropriately sentencing them, in the article, Mr Mugisha still insinuates that “…because of this work, David was bludgeoned to death at his home, with a hammer.”

The matter of the Rolling Stone newspaper that published a list of homosexuals which is the basis of the western gay propaganda alleging that “the press” in from page 21

Uganda promotes murdering homosexuals is even too absurd to comment about.
These people know nothing about Uganda’s culture, let alone that of the tabloid, where many journalism students try many stunts to come up with a publication that can sell in a tough media market and a poor reading culture.

Even “credible” newspapers here struggle yet they have been in the market far too long to stage competition against them. But many People here also love sensationalism and gossip and some enjoy nudity. That was what Giles Mahame, the Rolling Stone publisher, was tapping into.

If not, given the shrewdness of Ugandans, it wouldn’t be farfetched to say that the Rolling Stone stunt could have as well been a stunt by the homosexuals themselves to elicit international sympathy and the cash that no doubt followed it.

Like the reasons behind the formation of many briefcase NGOs in Uganda, and the fake reasons many Ugandans give to foreign Missions here to obtain visas to their countries, everything is possible in Uganda.

Mr Mugisha is no doubt a high-profile celebrity now. He is a globe-trotter and every gay organisation across North America and Europe is seeking a piece of him. He is trusted as an authority on matters concerning Uganda’s social attitudes in general and on homosexuality in particular.

The most unfortunate thing is that even very credible news organisations such as the New York Times, TIME, CNN, Sidney Morning Herald and their political protégés, continue to believe what Mr Mugisha and his colleagues continue to tell them without seeking the other side of the story, a timeless journalistic principle.

Even the Wikipedia has sharp profiles of Mugisha and SMUG, with the self-proclaimed online encyclopedia claiming that there are “at least 500,000” homosexuals in Uganda.
Ugandan homosexuals have the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to thank for all this.

Bernard Sabiti is a Kampala-based social critic
[email protected]


Gays: Timeline to Anti-Homosexuality Bill

According to these organisations and popular belief in the West, mainly propagated by liberal and gay-affiliated news organisation and the so-called “Ugandan Gay Community”, there is timeline on which Anti-Homosexuality Bill can be traced.

This is the timeline Ms Kennedy used in her Huffington Post tribute, and It was curious to find that it forms the exact talking points used by other gay rights groups while talking about Uganda’s alleged Homophobia:

• Started On March 9, 2009, when three American evangelists, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the US, arrived in Kampala to give a series of talks. Using the real words used by the organisations that have awarded Prizes to Sexual Miniorities Uganda (SMUG), this is their ‘official’ timeline of the Uganda Anti-homosexuality Bill:

• “For three days, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the American evangelicals, who were presented as experts on homosexuality.

• The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomised teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.

• One month later, after conferring with the Americans, a bill was introduced in Parliament to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.

• That conference and the follow-up legislation intensified the attacks endured by Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, inter-sex community,

• In November 2010, a Ugandan news newspaper published a series of articles naming members of the LGBTI community, beneath a headline which read, “hang them.” In response, neighbors surrounded one named lesbian’s home, hurling rocks. Other victims of the involuntary outing were threatened with death and beaten. When confronted by the violence he had instigated, the magazine’s editor responded: “I was only trying to protect Ugandans from those seeking to “recruit children to homosexuality.”

• On January 26, 2011, Frank Mugisha’s dear friend and colleague at SMUG, David Kato, whose photograph appeared with Frank’s in the same issue, was beaten to death. In response, the same editor justified outing the victims by saying: “We want the government to hang people who promote homosexuality, not for the public to attack them.”