Sunday, 15 May 2011

Uganda: Has The Bill Been Killed?

"Mainstream media have been wrongly reporting this for more than a year now. Every time they’ve reported it, they have been wrong. Stop doing it, mainstream media."

Jim Burroway, Box Turtle Bulletin.
How the story of the apparent return of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill unfolded in the British and US media during last week makes for interesting reading.
Burroway points out a large number of anomalies here - which were only to be expected when much reporting was done at some considerable distance from Uganda (Something that Fagburn is as susceptible to and guilty of as anyone, of course - see below).
For example; 'Uganda lawmakers remove death penalty clause from anti-gay bill' [LA Times et al, it couldn't be at that stage), and that 'Uganda's anti-gay bill disappears from parliament's agenda after global outcry against bill' [Reuters et al, prematurely].
It was great that some two million people signed an All Out online petition; "The petition demands that Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni stop the human rights violations by publicly vowing to veto the 'Kill the gays' bill."
Though online "campaigns" always whiff slightly of "Diana Bollocks".
And apparently the president cannot veto a bill that's been voted by parliament.
Few serious commentators will commit to saying anything beyond how the fate of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is now "uncertain" - it looks like it would have to be resubmitted as a new private member's bill after parliament reconvenes in June.
Paul Canning of LGBT Asylum News has raised an interesting point - that the bill's apparent return and the outcry against it has not been reported by the media in Uganda.
"It remains unclear how (and if) the massive international protests played a role in stalling or stopping the bill this week. It was reported that Ugandan government offices were flooded with messages from around the World, however there has been little to no reporting within Uganda of this. Such reporting would be expected if the bill was playing a 'distraction' role for President Museveni, who is being strongly criticised for repressing protest and his security forces attacks on the opposition, amongst other issues, as many had said it would." [Fagburn among them - Oops!]
As it was barely being discussed in the press in Uganda one wonders if there was an attempt to get it passed this time.
Canning has been shown to be a very reliable source on international LGBT news stories - there's an excellent primer on the AHB Bill by him here.
Writing yesterday Paul Canning concludes;
"The international pressures and the consequences, on aid and trade for example, of passing the bill are extremely serious. This must have been considered by Museveni's office and the government generally this week. Museveni himself has spoken about the pressures in the past. But exactly how that played out this week and whether it played a role in the bill's stalling/death we don't know.
"What I also discussed was the determination of the anti-gay forces. They have a lot invested in anti-gay actions, and that includes a financial investment as being an anti-gay Preacher in Uganda can be very lucrative. Because of that, I seriously doubt that the bill is dead, just halted."

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