In a reversal of the favourable publicity that peaked during the 2007 Commonwealth summit in Kampala, Uganda is now taking a beating in the foreign press.
The litany of condemnations, in the US or elsewhere in Africa, translates into a battering that is inspired by the proposed anti-homosexuality law. In some cases, the articles recall the insane days of Idi Amin, whose alleged shenanigans continue to define Uganda among foreigners who have never been here, while many express outrage over the idea behind such a piece of legislation.
The New York Times said in an editorial that Uganda should “lose millions of dollars in foreign aid and be shunned globally” if the law is introduced. “The US and others need to make clear to the Ugandan government that such barbarism is intolerable and will make it an international pariah,” the editorial, published on January 4, said.
The editorial was written on the back of a news story in which a New York Times reporter noted that Uganda “has become a far-flung front line in the American culture wars, with American groups on both sides, the Christian right and gay activists, pouring in support and money as they get involved in the broader debate over homosexuality in Africa”.
Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposes death or life imprisonment for gays. The Penal Code Act already criminalises homosexuality, but Mr Bahati says he wants to protect traditional family values. Mr Henry Oryem, the minister of state for international affairs, yesterday said the government was not bothered by the criticism. “Homosexuality is not a priority for the people or the government of Uganda,” he said.