Uganda’s anti-gay political woes return
What you need to know:
The gay lobby in North America and Western Europe over the last 20 years has grown so powerful and aggressive in fronting its interests that practically every Western institution and sector is held in its grip.
Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 tabled by Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa on March 21.
Tuesday’s events followed the same familiar script seen at the time the Ndorwa West MP David Bahati originally proposed an anti-gay Bill in December 2009.
Jubilation by Parliament, satisfaction across Uganda, protests verbal and written by gay right and human rights activists, indignation by Western embassies and organisations in Uganda, and nervousness by President Museveni.
Anything from Uganda to do with anti-homosexual legislation and law-enforcement immediately becomes a heated international political and cultural matter and so will this new Bill.
It certainly is not an enviable position for Museveni to find himself in as President. It is he who must sign that new Bill into law. Nobody else.
If he signs it, this will be widely welcomed in Uganda where the population is overwhelmingly opposed to what they see as the West’s attempt to impose their decadent ways on Africa.
If unanimous public support for an Act of Parliament were all that was involved, nothing would please Mr Museveni more than to sign it into law and enjoy the political windfall from that.
However, there is much more to anti-homosexual legislation in Uganda than what the population overwhelmingly supports.
There are “foreign policy implications”, President Museveni told grumbling NRM MPs meeting at State House in Entebbe in January 2010 to debate the Bahati Bill.
This, in turn, brings us to how the NRM state has constructed its power base and international relations since 1986, something I’ve discussed a few times in Sunday Monitor.
To recap, the Ugandan political landscape is like the structure of the US presidential election.
While America has a standard liberal democratic election of one man, one vote, the actual election of the US president is done by delegates to an electoral college, making it an indirect election in many ways.
Similarly, while voting is open to Ugandan citizens who are 18 and above, the real “electoral college” that decides on Uganda’s place in the world is the Western nations of Canada, the United States, the former colonial power the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
Mutually beneficial relationship
The reason for this is that much of what has kept the NRM government in power since 1986 is funding for various government and social services, tactical support for the national budget, funding and training of the Ugandan army and its peacekeeping troop deployment in the Horn of Africa and East-Central Africa, and a general level of diplomatic and media support by the West.
Much of this has been because of the mutually beneficial relationship, in which Uganda since the early 1990s has played a crucial role in stabilising a string of unstable African countries, from Liberia in 1991 to Somalia today.
This sub-contractor role by Uganda became much more pronounced after the September 2001 militant attacks on the United States and the counterterrorism operations that followed, with Uganda playing a vital support part.
Thus, the West needs NRM Uganda as much as NRM Uganda needs the West, which partly explains why the West has tended to turn an uncomfortable but still blind eye from many of the human rights violations and political excesses and much of the corruption of the NRM state.
Nevertheless, the gay lobby in North America and Western Europe over the last 20 years has grown so powerful and aggressive in fronting its interests that practically every Western institution and sector is held in its grip.
No mainstream Western political party, politician, media agency, business corporation or government institution dare be seen to be on the wrong side of the gay lobby.
That’s why, as Museveni narrated to the NRM caucus at State House in 2010, he had received phone calls from various Western leaders, from the Canadian prime minister to the-then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in Western Europe both requesting and pressuring him not to go ahead and sign the Bahati anti-gay Bill.
Museveni knows that he will get a fresh barrage of phone calls and visits from Western ambassadors in Kampala and their governments, who themselves will face fierce protests, lobbying, and threats if they are seen to do nothing about Uganda for passing into law the latest Bill.
Where the West has the vocal homosexual lobby to reckon with, mainstream Western society has largely come to accept homosexuality in its midst or, more accurately, has been frightened and intimidated into having no choice but accept it.
Museveni, on the other hand, is in a much more difficult position.
He must please two opposite schools of thought that are equally passionate about the issue -- Western governments whose funding and diplomatic support is crucial to his stay in power, and the Ugandan population that is about 97 percent militantly anti-homosexual and whose grassroots support and sentiment he can’t ignore.
Little wonder that, being the cunning political operative he is and having anticipated that the Basalirwa Bill would sail through Parliament, he announced an unexpected address to Parliament the previous week.
Ostensibly it was to brief the MPs on a range of national development issues, but the real reason was to touch on the anti-homosexual Bill and, addressing himself to his real audience, the Western embassies in Kampala, presented himself as conservative to the assembled MPs and at the same time a reasonable African head of state willing to discuss this hyper-sensitive subject and have scientists guide the debate.
None of this will be of much help, though, because the Bill now heads to his table and there is no option of a presidential veto open to him.
Failure to sign the Bill by delay or using the Attorney General’s office to seek any loophole in the Bill will be seen by Ugandans as an instance of Museveni yet again dodging the punishing decision.
Signing it will have him and Uganda hounded by the Western embassies and their governments, who in turn will be hounded and threatened by their unrelenting gay lobby.
If there are a few times Yoweri Museveni would rather somebody else was head of State of Uganda, parliamentary debates and laws on homosexuality are among these.
Where the West has the vocal homosexual lobby to reckon with, mainstream Western society has largely come to accept homos-exuality in its midst or, more accurately, has been frightened and intimidated into having no choice but accept it.
Museveni, on the other hand, is in a much more difficult position.
He must please two opposite schools of thought that are equally passionate about the issue,’’ Timothy Kalyegira, journalist.