I’m sharing what connects me to others, stories that are close(st) to home –  the realities not only of bredrin and dadas on the continent, en in the diaspora, but all our living relatives…sharing moments of silence, deep breaths, cleansing tears, communion with loved ones and prayers for forgiveness for  those who saw David Kato as an enemy….forgive us (Great) Mother, for those sins we know and don’t know about, and those we are yet to commit…bless wale wanaospread upendo in abundance….ase….

 

From Gay Uganda – http://gayuganda.blogspot.com/2011/01/kato-david-kisule.html

I am in shock.

Literal shock. Just heard that one of our members, a prominent gay activist, an out and out man, who has been at the forefront of the gay rights movement in Uganda, David Kato Kisule was murdered. Dead, a blunt instrument to the skull.

Dead. In Lugazi Hospital at the moment.

What to do? Shock. Shock, shock.

So, I write, to try and express that which I feel. But, what can words express?

Kato. A disturbed friend. One of our very special brand of radical activists. He used to say that he was one of the very ‘out’ if not the first out gay man in Uganda.

And, yes, he was one of the people whose photo appeared in the Rolling Stone, one of the three plaintiffs who sued, and won the court case.

Yes, I am paranoid. I wonder whether it had any bearing. Whether that had bearing….!

Impossible, most likely, to prove cause and effect. We just don’t know. And, we are most likely to strike out in our grief at the nearest enemy.

But, is it a coincidence?

Gosh.

——-

Shock indeed.

Just settled down. Apart from trying to inform lots of other people who have already received the news. I have to settle down, get some rest, and then prepare for work tomorrow. Cannot just bounce off just like that.

But, I need to settle down. The shock, the realisation of all the things we fear, and brush off, and hope never ever to face. But, one of our own is gone.

Gone in a violent way. Gone, for reasons that I am as yet to know, or figure out… Oh gosh.

—-

More settled now, but no less shocked. That is what it does to you, a sudden death like this.

David was apparently killed in his home, by a person or persons unknown. Yes, there is a suspect, or suspects. Problem with investigations in Uganda is the fact that what is not verified will always remain in the realms of conjecture.

What remains is that we have lost one of our most prominent firebrands. Indeed, he was on the front page of the Rolling Stone with Bishop Ssenyonjo. Remember, the one with the caption to ‘Hang Them’.

And yes, he was one of the three who sued the Rolling Pebble, and won.

 

[I,s.i.s note: and for those us still living…..]

A LITANY FOR SURVIVAL

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive

– Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn

Ase, Ase, Ase…….


the ripple effect: matrix of globalisation

KAMPALA, Uganda — Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.

Marc Hofer for The New York Times

Nikki Mawanda, 27, who was born female but lives as a “trans-man” in Uganda, described abuse by the police and others

Daniel, Washington

The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized 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.”

Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.

One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.

Donor countries, including the United States, are demanding that Uganda’s government drop the proposed law, saying it violates human rights, though Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity (who previously tried to ban miniskirts) recently said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”

The Ugandan government, facing the prospect of losing millions in foreign aid, is now indicating that it will back down, slightly, and change the death penalty provision to life in prison for some homosexuals. But the battle is far from over.

Instead, Uganda seems to have 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.

“It’s a fight for their lives,” said Mai Kiang, a director at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a New York-based group that has channeled nearly $75,000 to Ugandan gay rights activists and expects that amount to grow.

The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.

“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.

“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.

Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.

“Now we really have to go undercover,” said Stosh Mugisha, a gay rights activist who said she was pinned down in a guava orchard and raped by a farmhand who wanted to cure her of her attraction to girls. She said that she was impregnated and infected with H.I.V., but that her grandmother’s reaction was simply, “ ‘You are too stubborn.’ ”

Despite such attacks, many gay men and lesbians here said things had been getting better for them before the bill, at least enough to hold news conferences and publicly advocate for their rights. Now they worry that the bill could encourage lynchings. Already, mobs beat people to death for infractions as minor as stealing shoes.

“What these people have done is set the fire they can’t quench,” said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.

Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans “underestimated the homophobia in Uganda” and “what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families.”

“When you speak like that,” he said, “Africans will fight to the death.”

Uganda is an exceptionally lush, mostly rural country where conservative Christian groups wield enormous influence. This is, after all, the land of proposed virginity scholarships, songs about Jesus playing in the airport, “Uganda is Blessed” bumper stickers on Parliament office doors and a suggestion by the president’s wife that a virginity census could be a way to fight AIDS.

During the Bush administration, American officials praised Uganda’s family-values policies and steered millions of dollars into abstinence programs.

Uganda has also become a magnet for American evangelical groups. Some of the best known Christian personalities have recently passed through here, often bringing with them anti-homosexuality messages, including the Rev. Rick Warren, who visited in 2008 and has compared homosexuality to pedophilia. (Mr. Warren recently condemned the anti-homosexuality bill, seeking to correct what he called “lies and errors and false reports” that he played a role in it.)

Many Africans view homosexuality as an immoral Western import, and the continent is full of harsh homophobic laws. In northern Nigeria, gay men can face death by stoning. Beyond Africa, a handful of Muslim countries, like Iran and Yemen, also have the death penalty for homosexuals. But many Ugandans said they thought that was going too far. A few even spoke out in support of gay people.

“I can defend them,” said Haj Medih, a Muslim taxi driver with many homosexual customers. “But I fear the what? The police, the government. They can arrest you and put you in the safe house, and for me, I don’t have any lawyer who can help me.”

 

Demonstrators carried banners denouncing homosexuality in December in Kampala, Uganda.

Marc Hofer for The New York Times

Marc Hofer for The New York Times

Stosh Mugisha is going through a transition to become a man.

Readers’ Comments

“I don’t think any of them were duped by those in Uganda. When you preach a gospel of hatred do you expect love to blossom?”

so this technically won’t be the last post in this series of 16 days of activism against gender violence, which is the bigger point of reposting all these alerts….

activism doesn’t lie within any particular sector, like ‘civil’ society, and isn’t publicised just in december.

Like Black History month and International Women’s day…the symbolism is powerful, but just a small part of a bigger, everyday struggle of all peoples to change (hopefully for the betta) & liberate themselves…..

today I’mma dedicate this space to sheroes that inspire me.

it’s about 2 women in particular.

Pouline Kimani & Sylvia Tamale.

they are symbolic of many many wom(b)en who have been significant in my growth and survival.

like the 1 woman who stepped out of her comfort zone to loan me money for the ticket that got me to tdot in the summer. marta jimenez.

and the women that reach/ed out, in Tdot, to mobilise the necessary resources to support queer/trans communities in East Afrika. Notisha Massaquoi. Allison Duke. Amai Kuda. Judith. Teo.Verlia. Omisoore. Aje. Roberta. Mercedes.Gie. Jamilah. Ayo. Francesca.Toki San. Debs. Rehanna. Wangui.Brandy………there are many more SISTAS in  SOLIDARITY….don’t want to exclude the brothers….allies like MindBender & Wassun, teach me that we can expect for straight/afrikans to take responsibility for bridging the gaps between our communities

but I digress…today the point is symbolising our efforts to defend & promote human rights with just 2 examples.

who is pouline? in her own werds, she is a young, black, queer, liberal feminist.

in my own werds, she is a soul/dada/comrade/teacher,

a soldier of love….

according to FIDH,  she works for them on “AFRICA FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS”
a campaign launched by regional and international human rights and women’s rights organisations present throughout Africa. The campaign’s aim is to call on African states to RATIFY international and regional women’s human rights protection instruments and to RESPECT them in law and practice. 

It’s timely that Pouline Kimani  received the Oustanding Lives Award this week.

A powerful symbol of all the possibilities there are in building solidarity across space & communities……

How appropriate that the city/country I chose to reside in, recognised the dedication & sacrifices of one of the activists at the forefront of the LGBTTIQQ  movement in East Afrika.

and what about sylvia tamale?

Dr Tamale is a human rights defender and activist, academic, writer and grassroots mobiliser who has influenced critical thinking at national and international levels. She is one of Africa’s leading feminist scholars. Her book ‘When hens Begin To Crow; Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda’ published in 1999 has been recognised internationally as a landmark piece. Her keen and sharp analysis, puts her at the cutting edge of human rights discourse.. In July 2003, Dr Tamale was awarded the University of Minnesota Distinguished Leadership award for Internationals.

blogger’s note: this is an excerpt from the article “honouring sylvia tamale” in pambazuka news from 5 years ago, she was recognised as an outstanding contributor to advancement of women’s rights…during another series for 16 days of activism against gender violence.

I thought I’d share a speech she delivered last month….

finish this off with another illustration of allies & working on our own unity first.

 

A HUMAN RIGHTS IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF THE ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL

[Public Dialogue November 18, 2009, Makerere University]

 

I would like to thank the Human Rights and Peace Centre for inviting me here this afternoon to share my views on this bill.  It is great that HURIPEC organized this to be a dialogue and not a debate because debates have a tendency to polarize and divide along irrational gut-level responses.  A dialogue, on the other hand, usefully sets the stage for people to listen to each other with understanding, tolerance and helps build bridges.  I hope that this public dialogue will mark the first stepping stone for all of us to embark on a rewarding journey of mutual respect, simple decency and fairness.

Mr. Chairperson—

My brief talk this afternoon is divided into four sections:

  1. First, I will address issues of mutual concern that I share with Hon. Bahati;
  2. Secondly, I will open the window of history and offer us a glimpse of the politics of hatred and discrimination that has affected the struggle for human rights over the years;
  3. Third, I will highlight the social meaning of the bill; and
  4. Finally, I shall put on my legal hat and outline the legal implications that this bill holds for our country if passed into law.

 

  1. I.                   Common Issues of Concern

I have scrutinized the bill thoroughly and the Honourable Member of Parliament David Bahati will be surprised to learn that I share some of his convictions.  For example, Hon. Bahati I share your desires as expressed in the preamble to the bill:

  1. To strengthen the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the family unit.  It is nevertheless important to point out that most of these can hardly be realized through the regulatory mechanism of the law.
  2. To protect the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, particularly the positive aspects of it.
  3. To protect Ugandan children and youth who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation—whether the abuse is hetero and homosexual.

 

I do not have the time and space this afternoon to engage in a detailed sociological discussion of the concept that the bill refers to as the “Traditional African Family.”  However, it is my humble opinion that the concept needs to be unpacked and scrutinized.  Mr. Chairperson as you very well know, Africa is a vast continent with an extremely rich and diverse cultural history.  Indeed it would be next to impossible to mark a particular institution as the one and only “Traditional African Family”. 

I will cite just a few examples to demonstrate that matrimonial relations among various African communities have differed a great deal:-

a)      While marriage between first cousins was traditionally taboo among the Baganda, marriages among blood-related kin were considered the best unions among the Bahima here in Uganda; 

b)      There is the phenomenon of chigadzamapfihwa where the family of a barren wife among the Ndaus of Zimbabwe would ‘donate’ her brother’s daughter to her husband to become a co-wife and bear children on behalf of the barren woman;

c)      Practices of non-sexual woman-to-woman marriages among various African customs e.g., the Nandi and Kisii of Kenya, the Igbo of Nigeria, the Nuer of Sudan and the Kuria of Tanzania for purposes of coping with various reproductive, social and economic problems;  and

d)      Levirate marriages where a man inherits his dead brother’s wife were a customary requirement in many African communities.  

While these may have been cultural practices at some point in our history, it is also important to recognize that family institutions all over the world are undergoing rapid transformation.  The changes that we see in this basic unit of society are the result of many factors including, economic crises, an increasing number of working mothers, technological advancements, armed conflicts, natural disasters, globalization, migration, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, etc.  Many of these changes and indeed the evolution of culture cannot be halted, certainly not through law. 

Perhaps the undisputed value that is a common denominator in all traditional institutions of the family in Africa is the group solidarity that we have embedded in our extended family networks.  Unfortunately, the support, stability, love and respect that were the hallmark of this family model are rapidly being eroded and will soon become history.

Thus, while I agree with you Hon. Bahati that we must seek ways of dealing with issues that threaten our families, I do not agree that homosexuality is one of those issues.  Mr. Chairperson, Ladies and gentlemen, what issues currently threaten our families here in Uganda?  I will name a few:

a)      Blood thirsty Ugandans and traditional healers that believe that their good fortune will multiply through rituals of child sacrifice.

b)      Rapists and child molesters who pounce on unsuspecting family members.  Research undertaken by the NGO, Hope after Rape (HAR) shows that over 50% of child sexual abuse reports involve children below 10 years of age, and the perpetrators are heterosexual men who are known to the victims.[1]

c)      Sexual predators that breach the trust placed in them as fathers, teachers, religious leaders, doctors, uncles and sexually exploit young girls and boys.  A 2005 report by Raising Voices and Save the Children revealed that 90% of Ugandan children experienced domestic violence and defilement.[2]

d)      Abusive partners who engage in domestic violence whether physical, sexual or emotional.  The 2006 national study on Domestic Violence by the Law Reform Commission confirmed the DV was pervasive in our communities.  66% of people in all regions of Uganda reported that DV occurred in their homes and the majority of the perpetrators were “male heads of households.”[3]  The Uganda Demographic Health Survey of 2006 put the figure slightly higher at 68%.[4]

e)      Parents who force their 14-year old daughters to get married in exchange for bride price and marriage gifts.

f)       A whole generation of children who were either born and bred in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps or abducted by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in the northern sub-region of Kitgum, Gulu and Pader districts.

g)      The millions of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.  The Uganda Aids Commission puts the cumulative number of orphans due to AIDS at 2 million.[5]

h)      The all powerful patriarchs that demand total submission and rule their households with an iron hand.

i)        Rising poverty levels and growing food insecurity which lead to hunger, disease, suffering and undignified living.  Figures from the latest report from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics show that over 60% of Ugandans living in rural areas live below the poverty line.[6]

I do not see how two people who are in a loving relationship and harming no one pose a threat to the family simply because they happen to be of the same sex.  The argument that homosexuality is a threat to the continuity of humankind and that it will lead to the extinction of human beings in the world simply does not hold water because there are too many heterosexuals in the world for that to become a reality.  How many of you in this room would “convert” to homosexuality any time soon?…  So, just as the priests, nuns and monks who are sworn to a life of celibacy will not cause the extinction of humanity, homosexuals will not either. 

  1. II.                Lessons from History

Anyone who cares to read history books knows very well that in times of crisis, when people at the locus of power are feeling vulnerable and their power is being threatened, they will turn against the weaker groups in society.  They will pick out a weak voiceless group on whom to heap blame for all society’s troubles—refugees, displaced populations, stateless persons aka illegal immigrants, minorities with no status, children, the poor, the homeless, commercial sex workers, etc.  I will offer a few examples to illustrate this point:

  • In Uganda, colonialists at various times blamed traditional chiefs and elders as well as Muslims as the main impediments to progress and civilization.
  • Dictator Idi Amin blamed Asians for Uganda’s dire economic problems and expelled all Indians in the early 1970s.
  • When Milton Obote’s political power was threatened during his second regime in the early 1980s he embarked on a deliberate campaign of hostility towards refugees in Uganda, particularly those of Rwandese extract.  Obote’s persecution of the Banyarwanda in Uganda and the whipping up of anti-Rwandese sentiments included the constant reference to his political opponent, Yoweri Museveni as a “foreigner from Rwanda.”
  • In the 20 years that northern Uganda faced armed conflict, the NRM administration pointed fingers at Kony and the LRA was blamed for all the atrocities and suffering of the people in the north.
  • The transmission of HIV/AIDS at various points in our history has been blamed on different “weak” constituents including commercial sex workers, truck drivers, young women aged 15-23, and mothers to babies.
  • When native South Africans faced dire economic crisis they turned against black “foreigners”, blaming them for the high unemployment rates and sparking off brutal xenophobic attacks against helpless immigrants/migrants and refugees in May 2008.

 

The lesson drawn from these chapters in our recent history is that today it is homosexuals under attack; tomorrow it will be another exaggerated minority.

Homosexuality has troubled people for a very long time.  Some religions find it distressing and there are many debates around it.  Mr. Chairperson and distinguished participants where did the idea of destroying homosexuality come from?  As his excellency President Museveni pointed out at the inaugural Young Achievers Awards Ceremony last weekend, homosexuals existed prior to the coming of Europeans to Uganda.  According to the President:  “They were not persecuted but were not encouraged either” (Daily Monitor Nov 16, 2009 at p.2).  The idea of destroying homosexuality came from colonialists.  In other words, homosexuality was not introduced to Africa from Europe as many would want us to believe.  Rather, Europe imported legalized homophobia to Africa. 

Homosexuality was introduced as an offence in Uganda directly through laws that were imported from Britain during colonialism.  And what did these same colonialists think of the “African traditional family” in Uganda?  They certainly did not introduce sodomy laws in order to protect the traditional African family.  In fact they believed that the traditional African family was inferior to their nuclear monogamous one and considered the former barbarous and ‘repugnant to good conscience and morality.’  This colonial attitude was well exemplified in the infamous 1917 case of R. v. Amkeyo, in which Justice Hamilton dismissed customary marriages as mere ‘wife purchase.’

Today, with all the economic, social and political crises facing Uganda, homosexuals present a convenient group to point fingers at as the “biggest threat” or the “real problem” to society.  Mr. Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, the re-criminalisation of homosexuality is meant to distract the attention of Ugandans from the real issues that harm us.  It conveniently diverts the attention of the millions of Ugandans who have been walking the streets for years with their college certificates and no jobs on offer.  Ladies and gentlemen, homosexuals have nothing to do with the hundreds of thousands of families that sleep without a meal or the millions of children who die unnecessarily every day from preventable or treatable diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, measles, pneumonia, etc.  Homosexuals are not the ones responsible for the lack of drugs and supplies at primary health care centres. 

 

  1. III.             The Social Implications of the Bill to the Average Ugandan

You may think that this bill targets only homosexual individuals.  However, homosexuality is defined in such a broad fashion as to include “touching another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”   This is a provision highly prone to abuse and puts all citizens (both hetero and homosexuals) at great risk.   Such a provision would make it very easy for a person to witch-hunt or bring false accusations against their enemies simply to “destroy” their reputations and cause scandal.  We all have not forgotten what happened to Pastor Kayanja and other men of God in the recent past.

Moreover, the bill imposes a stiff fine and term of imprisonment for up to three years for any person in authority over a homosexual who fails to report the offender within 24 hours of acquiring such knowledge.  Hence the bill requires family members to “spy” on one another.  This provision obviously does not strengthen the family unit in the manner that Hon. Bahati claims his bill wants to do, but rather promotes the breaking up of the family.  This provision further threatens relationships beyond family members.  What do I mean?  If a gay person talks to his priest or his doctor in confidence, seeking advice, the bill requires that such person breaches their trust and confidentiality with the gay individual and immediately hands them over to the police within 24 hours.  Failure to do so draws the risk of arrest to themselves.  Or a mother who is trying to come to terms with her child’s sexual orientation may be dragged to police cells for not turning in her child to the authorities.  The same fate would befall teachers, priests, local councilors, counselors, doctors, landlords, elders, employers, MPs, lawyers, etc. 

Furthermore, if your job is in any way related to human rights activism, advocacy, education and training, research, capacity building, and related issues this bill should be a cause for serious alarm.  In a very undemocratic and unconstitutional fashion, the bill seeks to silence human rights activists, academics, students, donors and non-governmental organizations.  If passed into law it will stifle the space of civil society.  The bill also undermines the pivotal role of the media to report freely on any issue.  The point I am trying to make is that we are all potential victims of this draconian bill.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us many years ago, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”  Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights instructs us: “All Human Beings are Born Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights.”   Many great people that we respect and admire have spoken out for the rights of homosexuals.  These include international award winners and champions of freedom and humanity—President Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Barack Obama.  Just yesterday, it was reported that former president of Botswana, Festus Mogae added his voice to those who have come out in opposition to the Bahati Bill (Daily Monitor, November 17, 2009 at p.10).

We must remember that the principal message at the heart of all religions is one of LOVE (And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love– 1 Corinthians 13: 13).  All religions teach the virtues of tolerance and urge their followers to desist from passing judgment.  Ladies and gentlemen, this bill promotes hatred, intolerance, superiority and violence.  Even if you believe that homosexuality is a sin, this bill is not the best method to address the issue.  It is valid to have religious and spiritual anxieties but our jurisprudence has a long history of separating the institutions of religion from the law.  The law, Mr. Chairperson, does not seek to ally any legal principle with a particular religion.  Mr. Stephen Langa is free to deliver his lectures on morality but it is unacceptable to reduce what his is preaching into law.  In my final submission I want to turn to a legal analysis of this bill.

 

  1. IV.              The Legal Implications of the Bill

Mr. Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, the Anti-Homosexuality bill has a total of 18 clauses.  12 of these 18 clauses (i.e., 67%) are not new at all as they simply replicate what we already have on our law books.  So the first point I want to highlight is that Parliament has been given a bill two-thirds of whose content duplicates existing laws. 

So, let us examine the content of the remaining 6 clauses that introduce new legal provisions. 

  • Clauses 6 provides for the recognition of the right to privacy and confidentiality for the victim of homosexual assaults.  This is a procedural issue that no one can dispute and it can easily be inserted in the Penal Code provisions that criminalize rape and aggravated defilement.

 

Nevertheless, the remaining 5 clauses are extremely problematic from a legal point of view.  They violate Uganda’s constitution and many other regional and international instruments that Uganda has ratified.

  • The interpretation section (Clause 1) replicates several definitions that are provided for elsewhere.  Its novel provisions lie in the attempt to define homosexuality and its related activities.  I have already alluded to the potential danger that Ugandans face in the threatening and broad fashion that the bill defines a “homosexual act.”

 

  • Clause 13 which attempts to outlaw the “Promotion of Homosexuality” is very problematic as it introduces widespread censorship and undermines fundamental freedoms such as the rights to free speech, expression, association and assembly.  Under this provision an unscrupulous person aspiring to unseat a member of parliament can easily send the incumbent MP unsolicited material via e-mail or text messaging, implicating the latter as one “promoting homosexuality.”  After being framed in that way, it will be very difficult for the victim to shake free of the “stigma.”  Secondly, by criminalizing the “funding and sponsoring of homosexuality and related activities,” the bill deals a major blow to Uganda’s public health policies and efforts.  Take for example, the Most At Risk Populations’ Initiative (MARPI) introduced by the Ministry of Health in 2008, which targets specific populations in a comprehensive manner to curb the HIV/AIDS scourge.   If this bill becomes law, health practitioners as well as those that have put money into this exemplary initiative will automatically be liable to imprisonment for seven years!  The clause further undermines civil society activities by threatening the fundamental rights of NGOs and the use of intimidating tactics to shackle their directors and managers.

 

  • Clause 14 introduces the crime of “Failure to Disclose the Offence” of homosexuality.  As I have noted above, under this provision any person in authority is obliged to report a homosexual to the relevant authorities within 24 hours of acquiring such knowledge.  Not only does this infringe on the right to privacy but it is practically unenforceable.  It dangerously opens up room for potential abuse, blackmail, witch-hunting, etc.  Do we really want to move sexual acts between consenting adults into the public realm?
  • Clause 16 relates to extra-territorial jurisdiction, and basically confers authority on Ugandan law enforcers to arrest and charge a Ugandan citizen or permanent resident who engages in homosexual activities outside the borders of Uganda.  This law enforcement model is normally used in international crimes such as money laundering, terrorism, etc.  The Ugandan Penal Code already provides for crimes that call for extra-territoriality.  All these touch on the security of the state e.g., treason, terrorism and war mongering (see S.4 of the PCA).

When it comes to offences committed partly within and partly outside Uganda, the Penal Code provides:

When an act which, if wholly done within the jurisdiction of the court, would be an offence against this Code is done partly within and partly beyond the jurisdiction, every person who within the jurisdiction does or makes any part of such act may be tried and punished under this Code in the same manner as if such act had been done wholly within the jurisdiction. [Section 5—Emphasis added]

Note that clause16 of the Bill employs the disjunctive “or” which gives it wider reach than S.5 of the Penal Code that uses the conjunctive “and”.  Therefore, what the Bill proposes to do is to elevate homosexual acts to a position of such importance that they appear to be at an even higher plane than murder, rape or grievous bodily harm for which no such provision is made.  It is difficult to see any rational basis for such inordinate attention to homosexuality.  And how exactly will they enforce this provision?  Is the government going to storm the bedrooms of consenting adults, or deploy spies to follow them when they travel abroad in order to establish who they have slept with and how they did it?  Does this include heterosexual couples that engage in anal sex?  What about our constitutional right to privacy?  In short, this provision of the Bill is a gross abuse of the principle of extra-territoriality.  But more importantly, the bill carries hidden venom that is bound to spread beyond persons that engage in homosexuality.

  • Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this bill is Clause 18, which requires Uganda to opt out of any international treaty that we have previously ratified that goes against the spirit of the bill.   Article 287 of the Constitution obliges Uganda to fully subscribe to all its international treaties obligations ratified prior to the passing of the 2005 constitution.  We cannot legislate or simply wish these obligations away.  Indeed, international law prohibits us from doing such a thing.  Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties clearly sets out the pacta sunt servanda rule which requires that “Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.”  

Article 123 (1), a provision deliberately placed in Chapter Seven of the Constitution (dealing with the powers of the Executive) says:

The President or a person authorised by the President may make treaties, conventions, agreements, or other arrangements between Uganda and any other country or between Uganda and any international organisation or body, in respect of any matter.

This is a wide power that can only be limited by express language under the Constitution itself. A major procedural limitation is found in the next clause of the same article, which provides:

Parliament shall make laws to govern ratification of treaties, conventions, agreements or other arrangements made under clause (1) of this article.  (Art. 123.2)

Another substantive limitation is to be found in the Bill of Rights found in Chapter 4.  In effect, the President cannot by the mechanism of Article 123(1) sign treaties whose effect would be to amend the Constitution. Indeed, any such treaty would be, as a matter of municipal law, null and void to the extent of such inconsistency, in terms of Article 2 (2) of the Constitution.

Parliament therefore has only a procedural role to incorporate treaties into Ugandan law – and that is the full extent of its powers. It cannot purport to proscribe ex ante (before the fact) the limit of the President’s treaty making powers.  Nor indeed, can parliament bind its own future action by purporting to exercise in advance its power to scrutinize treaties signed by the President and determine which of them to ratify.  All that Parliament can do is to either ratify or refuse to ratify a treaty after it is signed, and in the latter case such treaty does not become part of Ugandan law.  This is the balance of executive power and democratic input achieved by Article 123, and one that clause 18 of the Bill is incompetent to amend.

Mr. Chairperson, distinguished participants, I wish to end by appealing to members of parliament and all Ugandans that believe in human rights and the dignity of all human beings to reject the Anti-homosexuality bill.  I am imploring Hon. Bahati to withdraw his private members bill.  Do we really in our hearts of hearts want our country to be the first on the continent to demand that mothers spy on their children, that teachers refuse to talk about what is, after all, “out there” and that our gay and lesbian citizens are systematically and legally terrorized into suicide?  Ladies and gentlemen, you may strongly disagree with the phenomenon of same-sex erotics; you may be repulsed by what you imagine homosexuals do behind their bedroom doors; you may think that all homosexuals deserve to burn in hell.  However, it is quite clear that this Bill will cause more problems around the issue of homosexuality than it will solve.  I suggest that Hon. Bahati’s bill be quietly forgotten.  It is no more or less than an embarrassment to our intelligence, our sense of justice and our hearts.

Thank you for your attention.

Response after the Q & A Session

Mr. Chairperson, in the interest of time I will respond to only three issues:

  • “Mad people” “like bats seeing the world upside down” “animals” “wicked”… These are some of the words used to describe homosexuals by the audience.  All the heckling and vicious jeering…  Mr. Bahati you commenced your talk this afternoon by saying, “We are not in the hate campaign.”  Well, if you were in any doubt about the fact that your bill is whipping up hatred and violence against homosexuals, just reflect back on the discourse that transpired in the room this afternoon. 

 

  • Secondly, Mr. Chairperson I think it is the height of paternalism and arrogance for Hon. Bahati and Mr. Langa to stand here and say they are legislating against homosexuals because they love them, they feel sorry for them, they face the risk of cancer, their lives are reduced by 20 years, etc.  Homosexuals are not asking for your pity, love, approval or redemption.  They only want you to affirm their humanness and their right to exist and be different.

 

  • Finally, Mr. Chairperson, Hon. Bahati asked the question, “Tamale, do you support homosexuality?”  I would like to tell Hon. Bahati that I am a simple woman that recognizes all human beings as worthy of dignity and rights and I am not obsessed with how people have sex in the privacy of their bedrooms.  I support the rights of all human beings regardless of how and with whom they have sex as long as they are adults and are not harming anyone.  So, the question should not be whether I support homosexuality, or heterosexuality for that matter.

 

Thank you very much Mr. Chairperson


[1]                  Study cited in Uganda Youth Development Link, Report on Sectoral Study on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Uganda, Commissioned by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (January 2004).

[2]                  See Raising Voices and Save the Children (edited by Dipak Naker), Violence Against Children: The Voices of Ugandan Children and Adults. (2005).  Available at http://www.raisingvoices.org/files/VACuganda.RV.pdf

[3]                  See Law Reform Commission, A Study Report on Domestic Violence, April 2006 at p.112

[4]                  See http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR194/FR194.pdf

[5]                  See Report by the Office of the Auditor General, Value for Money Audit Report on Uganda AIDS Control Project, October 2007.  Available at http://www.oag.go.ug/docs/UACauditreport.pdf

[6]                  See UBOS, Spatial Trends of Poverty and Inequality in Uganda: 2002-2005, February 2009.

the truth about stories is…they’re all we got….you can do anything you want with this one, it’s yours for the taking….share it with others, forget it, criticise the strategies, fill in the gaps, but don’t say you’d have lived your life differently, if (only) you knew, now you know.

here’s another transcript fresh off the presses….this shit is live!

There was extended discussion on what people had experienced or heard post the Pulse and Nation marriage article. The reactions have been varied and disturbing. There has been increased hate mail received at GALCK that is disconcerting for all that use the center and this issue will be discussed further at the next GALCK meeting.

There also seemed to be an increase in hostility towards the community. Some of the stories shared last night included the following:

 

1. One member was attacked in her neighbourhood as she went home the Friday after the Pulse article came out. Three men stopped her and punched her till she was bloody. She is also about to be evicted from her workplace because she is a lesbian. The community has always known she was a lesbian and there had been no problems. Why the attack now?

2. Individuals whose pictures were on the Pulse magazine had major challenges with their families. Two of the individuals had their mothers become hysterical after neighbours shared the pictures from the newspapers.

One of those individuals has moved out of the house and town to try and figure things out. The third individual in the picture had to alter his movements in his neighbourhood to ensure that he is not attacked. Of course they have all suffered tremendous stress and hardships over the situation.

3. A GALCK staff member who went to collect the keys for a new post office box was delayed at the office for hours and informed that she would have to wait and meet the Director of the office. There was a lot of murmur by the office staff and some actually coming over to gawk at her and see, I guess, what a lesbian looks like.

Luckily for her, plus her great way with people, she was able to turn a rather hostile engagement to one that was more amicable. The post office official informed her that she would need to meet with her lawyers first to be clear about opening a P O Box for an LGBTI group and she would get back to her later in the week. As the GALCK staff member left the post office, the officer told her that she would pray for her and her like.

 

With these types of reaction you can see that there was real debate about the community responding to the media. Would a response only escalate the situation? After much debate there was agreement that some form of  response from the community must be generated. Silence was not seen as the answer to the situation. LGBTI individuals would continue to get attacked whether there was a response or not.

However there was agreement that there would have to be a strategic response that took into consideration the actual risks the community faces at this time.

 

There was then a discussion of what strategic issues or responses the group should think about in terms of responding. The following were points brought up in terms of a response:

 

1. The need to utilize personal stories. These can never be refuted since one is talking from their own personal experience.

2. Awareness creation of the reality of LGBTI Kenyans. Everyone agreed that the larger society is incredibly uninformed about homosexuality and LGBTI individuals. There is need to provide basic information on the community.

3. Need to base the conversation about LBGTI communities within a human rights framework. Kenyans have been inundated with human rights discussions from a number of years now and this would simply be about expanding that discussion to include LGBTI communities.

4. Whatever rules and procedures are agreed by the community on engaging with the media must be strictly adhered to for this community response to be successful

5. There is need to prioritize the public health perspective in responding to the media. HIV/AIDS is understood by many in the society and any situation like the present situation where a segment of the society is sidelined including from accessing health care services simply for who they are would not be tolerated.

6. It must be made clear to the media that same sex marriage IS NOT a priority for the LGBTI community in Kenya period. This is a story they have generated and there are many other very pressing concerns for the community. It was also stressed that even if the issue is not brought up at an interview the point should still be made.

7. The move by the LGBTI community to challenge the existing colonial hold-over draconian laws is to make health care and other servicesavailable to the community ( utilizing a Public Health approach)

8. Need to pick which media houses to engage with. There are friendly media houses and journalists and they should be the ones targeted with our statement.

9. Need to engage with human rights, civil society and health allies on this situation.

 

Agreements

 

A. It was agreed that the community generate a statement that incorporates the following areas:

 

1. A health and human rights perspective

2. Same sex unions are not a Kenyan LGBTI priority

3. There are LGBTI Kenyan citizens, who are just regular folk, who work, pay taxes, face all the problems that Kenyans do and are committed to the development of a country that is prosperous and respectful of ALL of its citizens.

 

A group was constituted to generate the first draft that will be presented at the next GALCK meeting.

 

B. There was a question as to why the interest in the community now. There have been many parties and LGBTI gatherings in Nairobi and Kenya over many years now. Why is the community being targeted at this time? There were those who felt that this was cyclic and that with a slow news week this was one issue to pick up.

However the majority felt that this may be a more calculated move by forces organized against the community to begin a campaign against the community. These forces were also seen as coming from within our own community. Considering what is happening in our neighboring countries it was felt that it was important for us to actually take the time to have more in-depth discussion and begin early strategizing if any such efforts are underway in our country.

There was recommendation that a Human Rights group take this organizing piece on. Akiba Uhaki was mentioned as the organization that could possibly lead this discussion forward.

 

I’ll stop here.  

a concerned brotha.

 

 

More on everything at the PROTEST/BAHATI party next Wednesday @ the GladStone Hotel.

from 7:30 – 11:00pm,

we’re putting more of our own politics back into partying…..

en building solidarity within queer/trans communities.

eudy2a word from the blogger: I’m re/posting this because I think Patrick is talking about some important strategies…for the West. I’m not advocating for east afrikan queers & trannies to go out onto the streets and hold hands (jus yet) because I fear it’d be putting people in needless danger.

What I would strongly urge though is for queers & trannies in Canada, the U.K, the States….. to organise protests in solidarity with east afrikan communities. These past few weeks have been filled with backlash.

Uganda. Bill 18. Rwanda. Article 217. Kenya. 2 gay men were arrested in Mombasa & 2 lesbians were arrested in Kisumu… more on that in the following posts…

repost: Patrick Strudwick, The Guardian UK, Tuesday October 20th

I came out of the closet when I was 14, but rarely have I held another man’s hand in public. I’m a pragmatist. The feeling of cosy belonging might be delightful in theory, but as a gay person, it’s not that simple – it necessitates a constant risk assessment of one’s surroundings.

Which may explain why my hands are sweating. I’m standing outside The George and Dragon, a gay pub on east London‘s Hackney Road, waiting to meet a man who has agreed to walk hand in hand with me. You might think that these days people would barely notice. But things have changed. We’re in the midst of a new wave of anti-gay hate crimes: since April there has been a 14% rise nationwide in attacks on gay people. There were four homophobic murders in London last year; last week Ian Baynham died a fortnight after being attacked in Trafalgar Square. In summer mobs of youths besieged gay bars in east London. And, just a few metres from where I’m standing, a 21-year-old man was left paralysed last year after a gang stabbed him repeatedly. Gay people are getting scared. I’m scared.

The man I’m meeting is Dave Atkins, the mercifully tall and broad founder of A Day in Hand, an organisation dedicated to encouraging gay people to hold hands in public. “You have to go out and do it,” he booms. “It’s the only way things will change.”

He grabs my hand. We pass an elderly woman who stares straight ahead. Next come a couple in their 30s with two young children. They seem incomprehensibly absorbed in what their toddler is doing. A man saunters by. He clocks our clasped hands before looking away. Was that a hostile look?

“Let’s go up here,” I say, leading Dave into the Boundary estate where those mobs are rumoured to have come from. We pass a group of youths. They appear to find their iPhones more compelling than the sight of two interlocked homosexuals. At Whitechapel market a pair of bargain hunters glance first at us, down at our hands, and back to the two-for-ones.

Then something shocking happens. We turn into a quiet side street. Dave and I are engrossed in our conversation. Suddenly I jolt with the realisation that I have forgotten we are holding hands. “That’s the Holy Grail,” says Dave, “being so comfortable you don’t even think about it.”

We head into the West End and provoke nothing more than a cursory glance. Our final destination is Trafalgar Square. Last month, Ian Baynham, 62, was kicked to death here. There’s a din coming from somewhere – a man is on the first ridge of Nelson’s column preaching the message of the ‘Good Book’. “Let’s climb up next to him!” I cry. The sight of a preacher on Nelson’s column with two gay men holding hands next to him is starting to draw crowds. A lesbian couple spot us, scramble up and join our silent show of defiance. “The Lord will save you,” says the preacher. He didn’t save Ian Baynham, I think.

“I’m genuinely surprised,” I tell Dave afterwards as we say our goodbyes. “I was expecting at least some nasty comments.” “You see?” he replies, beaming.

But I know that today I was lucky; that at night things could have been different.

global human rights

Repost/ed: Xtra

Rob Salerno/National/Monday October 19chris skinner

 Ryan Cooke didn’t know that his fiancé had been brutally murdered seven hours earlier when he posted on his Facebook page:

“HEY…does anyone know where Chris is?” at 10:04am on Sun Oct 18.

Cooke had lost his phone and no one could reach him. Police had been called to the corner of Adelaide St E and Victoria St at 3:05am by several eyewitnesses who had seen Cooke’s fiancé Chris Skinner attacked by a group of men who beat him to the ground then ran over him with an SUV. Skinner was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries.

Skinner is the 43rd homicide of 2009 in the city of Toronto. Hours earlier, Skinner and Cooke had been celebrating Skinner’s sister’s birthday in the entertainment district. Skinner decided to leave the party and walk home alone. Details of the attack are being kept under wraps as the police investigation continues, but it is known that Skinner got into an altercation with the occupants of a black SUV before he was beaten, and that after running him over the attackers fled east on Adelaide in their SUV.

The number of attackers has not been confirmed, but it is believed there were at least two and possibly three or four. The make and model of the SUV and its licence plate number were not yet known, but police will be combing over surveillance video from the area to see if it can be determined.

Friends of Skinner suspect that the killing may have been a hate crime, but police haven’t drawn that conclusion.

“No, there’s not at all any indication that there were homophobic elements to the attack,” says Det Stacey Gallant.

But that doesn’t sit well with Skinner’s friends who are struggling to find a motive for the murder.

“Not a single person who knows him would say that he would cause a ruckus,” says Skinner’s long-time friend Craig Lund, “but he would stand up for himself if he was called on anything. I find that Toronto Police very rarely jump to the conclusion that homophobia exists.”

Skinner, 27, lived with Cooke and they planned to get married next summer. He worked as a graphic designer at Endeavour Marketing. Cooke could not be reached for comment at press time.
 
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Stacy Gallant at 416−808−7410 and Detective Doug Dunstan at 416−808−7406, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−8477 or online at http://www.222tips.com. And Xtra here. 

 OCT 19 Xtra.ca Staff –

The Toronto Police Service reports that 27-year-old Chris Skinner was killed in the early morning hours of Oct 18.

Police were called to the Adelaide St E and Victoria St area at 3 am to investigate a report of an injured pedestrian.

Police said in a press release that an altercation took place between Skinner and the occupants of a black SUV. Skinner was knocked to the ground. The attackers then returned to their vehicle and ran Skinner over with it.
Police say the SUV fled eastbound on Adelaide St. Skinner was taken to hospital where he died.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477 and Xtra
Xtra will update as information becomes available.

 

we may not know the details (yet), whether this was a hate crime or not….

 but when we look at this death in the larger scheme of tings, we should be guarding ourselves.

this is big news in Toronto, but it’s everyday in many other parts.

 

I, for one, am not shocked….

these past few weeks have been raging with backlash, hate, and  LOVE.

life/death/life cycles.

R.I.P  Chris Skinner.

we will continue organising to prevent the unwarranted deaths of many other queers & trannies…..

 

en we will continue speaking TRUTH  to (more) POWER,