The Ugandan Parliamentarians should note that the President of Uganda makes the case that Anti–gay legislation is unnecessary
By Melanie Nathan, March 19, 2013.
According to Ugandan press, a delegation of USA human rights activists, led by Kerry Kennedy, the president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, last week and discussed the issue of human rights and LGBTI people in Uganda. Kerry is the niece to former U.S. president John F. Kennedy and daughter to the latter’s younger brother Robert F. Kennedy.
Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights has been previously involved in acknowledging the struggle of Ugandan’s LGBTI community though its high profile and much publicized award to Ugandan human rights defender, Frank Mugisha, in 2011. Mugisha was awarded The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, which was created by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial in 1984 to honor individuals around the world who show courage and have made a significant contribution to human rights in their country.
Ethel Kennedy, the widow of the former U.S. attorney general and Sen. John Kerry presented the award to Mugisha at a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Nov 2011, when for the the first time the award was bestowed on an advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. The 29-year-old Mugisha still leads the underground group called Sexual Minorities Uganda, (SMUG) whose members routinely shift locations in Uganda for their safety.
What follows is the Ugandan News report of the visit by Kerry Kennedy, where it would seem that the President of Uganda is in deep denial of the situation and facts surrounding LGBT persecution in Uganda. Museveni’s save face and defensive comments not only exacerbate the myth and lies surrounding the genesis of the human rights infractions against Ugandan gays, but also contradicts the West’s perception delivered through all the factual evidence, that in fact Ugandan gays and lesbians and transgender citizens are the subject of targeted persecution by his own Government, by pending legislation in the form of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as “the Kill The Gays Bill,” persecution by local tabloids, such as Red Pepper Tabloid and harsh treatment at the hands of neighbors and community alike.
The imperative admission made by the President, that is assuming this report to be accurate, ought to help LGBTI Ugandans. The article says that the President noted “no luring of young people using money into homosexual acts”. One of the basis for asserting the need for the Anti-Homoseuxality Bill is the false assertion (by proponents of the Bill, such as David Bahati, its MP sponsor and author,) that Gays recruit children into homosexuality and that gays pay people to become homosexuals. Now the President himself is admitting that he does not believe this is in fact occuring . The President also said that there are “few homosexuals.” Museveni is hence making the case for the withdrawal of the anti-homosexual bill.
There is already existing legislation under the Ugandan Penal Code that outlaws so called “acts against the natural order.”
Hopefully the Ugandan Parliamentarians will note that the President of Uganda has contradicted the very basis upon which the rely to pass the pending Anti–gay legislation. Uganda’s parliament resumes on April 02, with the AHB at #3 on the order papers of the parliamentary agenda when it went into recess.
We have reached out today to Kerry Kennedy for her comments.
This is the report:-
By Vision Reporter President Yoweri Museveni has said the issue of homosexuality and lesbianism has been totally distorted leading to wrong public debate.
“In our society, there were a few homosexuals. There was no persecution, no killings and no marginalization of these people but they were regarded as deviants. Sex among Africans including heterosexuals is confidential,” Museveni said.
“If am to kiss my wife in public, I would lose an election in Uganda. Western people exhibit sexual acts in public which we don’t do here,” he said, adding that, Africans do even punish heterosexuals who publically expose their sexual acts.
The president said what is new is the way Europeans and other Western people handle the issue of sexuality in general, including public flaunting which is a problem and luring young people into acts of homosexuality for money.
He said attempts to promote homosexuality as an alternative way of life has led to engagements in running battles with the church.
“You have a lot of room in your house, why don’t you go there. Sex is a bilateral issue, not a multilateral one,” he said.
The President was on Monday meeting a delegation of USA human rights activists led by Kerry Kennedy, the president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
Kerry is the niece to former U.S. president John F. Kennedy and daughter to the latter’s younger brother Robert F. Kennedy.
Accompanied by several lawyers, actors and religious leaders, the activist expressed concern with what she described as harassment of the gay and lesbian community in Uganda including exposure of the pictures.
She made it clear that it is a violation of people’s rights to put pictures of sexual minority groups in the [news] papers.
She also said the pending Bill on homosexuality works against the international law treaties that Uganda has signed, and cautioned against the misconceptions that equate pedophiles with homosexuals.
Kerry Kennedy is the author of The New York Times best seller “Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans talk about Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning,” published by Crown Books/Random House in September 2008, and “Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World,” (Random House, 2000).
Reacting to various issues raised by the team, Museveni said he would investigate claims of violence against homosexuals, adding that for a viable solution, activists must respect the confidentiality of sex in our traditions and culture.
He reiterated that in Uganda, “there is no discrimination, no killings, no marginalization, no luring of young people using money into homosexual acts”.
The team pledged to work with the president on the laws regarding overt sexual acts by offering free consultancy.
We will seek clarification from the team apparently led by Kerry Kennedy as to exactly what it means by the statement: “The team pledged to work with the president on the laws regarding overt sexual acts by offering free consultancy.”