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.

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werd on (activism on) the ground!

WHEN:          THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH, 12:30 PM
WHERE:       UGANDA HOUSE  336, EAST 45TH STREET (BTN. 1ST @ 2ND AVES)

This demonstration is being organized in response to the global call for action from November 9th to December 10th, Human Rights Day, by SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda), a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’s organizations based in Uganda.
 
Join with African Services Committee, IGLHRC (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission), Human Rights Watch, Health GAP and many other local HIV/AIDS and social justice organizations in the area on Thursday, November 19th at 12:30pm outside the Ugandan Consulate in New York to protest this assault on the basic human rights for the Ugandan LGBT community as proposed in Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
 
Similar actions are happening around the world including in Copenhagan, Ottowa, Pretoria and on the same day in Washington D.C.
 
For more information on the issue see IGLHRC’s action alert below.

The Issue:
The Ugandan Parliament is now considering a homophobic law that would reaffirm penalties for homosexuality and criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality.” The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 targets lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans, their defenders and anyone else who fails to report them to the authorities whether they are inside or outside of Uganda. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) are calling for the swift dismissal of the bill and human rights protections for all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Background:
Uganda’s Penal Code Article 145a already criminalizes “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” – a charge used to prosecute, persecute and blackmail LGBT people with the threat of life imprisonment. The new bill would specifically penalize homosexuality, using life imprisonment to punish anything from sexual stimulation to simply “touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” It also punishes “aggravated homosexuality” – including activity by “serial offenders” or those who are HIV positive – with the death penalty.

The bill criminalizes “promotion of homosexuality” in the form of funding and sponsoring LGBT organizations and broadcasting, publishing, or marketing materials on homosexuality and punishes these acts with a steep fine, 5-7 years of imprisonment, or both. Any person in authority who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to a significant fine and up to 3 years in prison – even when this means turning in their colleagues, family, or friends. More shocking, the bill claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while outside of the country.

The bill effectively bans any kind of community or political organizing around non-heteronormative sexuality. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be seriously compromised. Women, sex workers, people living with AIDS, and other marginalized groups may also find their activities tracked and criminalized through this bill.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 not only violates multiple protections guaranteed by the Constitution of Uganda, which ensures independence for human rights non-governmental organizations, but contravenes the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party. This bill undermines Uganda’s commitment to the international human rights regime and threatens the basic human rights of all its citizens.

Issued by: Gender DynamiX                 Friday 20 November 2009

 

This Friday Daisy Dube will be remembered. Daisy was shot and killed in Yeoville in 2008 because of her gender identity.  She and three drag queens out for the night stopped and asked three men in a car to stop calling them “isitabane.” (A isiZulu slur used for LGBT people). Her cold blooded murder was a result of transphobia.  She was shot and killed for defending her identity. 

 Friday 20 November 2009 is TDOR – Transgender Day of Remembrance. The day is commemorated around the world as a way to highlight and end violence against trangender people.  The Day draws attention to the many nameless and faceless victims that the media never hears of – stories that shame us as a society and as human beings.

One such victim – Aunty Victoria, attempted suicide and later died in Muhimbili National Hospital Dar es Salaam this year. The years of stigma and constant discrimination, and finally the loss of her lover made her life unbearable.

Hours before her death, naked and unconscious, a hospital worker took photographs of her body.  The photos were uploaded to the internet, sent out via email list servs and widely circulated.  Echoing this shocking disrespect, the morgue at Muhimbili was left unlocked and hundreds of people queued to look at her body. By the time Aunty Victoria was buried, her breasts and genitals were surgically removed to conform to the Muslim belief that her body should be the one she was born with, so that Allah would recognise her in death.

Transgenderism is classified globally as a mental disorder, rather than a natural gender variation. Transgender activists the world over are advocating for the condition to be reclassified as a medical condition.

This western diagnosis contributes to the ongoing transphobia, isolation and pain that trangender people face – resulting in depression and suicidal tendencies.  African societies which traditionally respected members who didn’t conform to the standard gender binary, are beginning to take on the first world view and are treating transgendered people like freaks to be culled

On Transgender Day of Remembrance, Non profit Transgender organisation Gender DynamiX and its partner GALA (Gay and Lesbian memory in Action) will release their book TRANS: Transgender life stories from South Africa.

Simone Heradien, board member of Gender DynamiX, says “We plead with the wider community of South Africa to join us in remembering these casualties of hatred, intolerance and injustice. South African law acknowledges and respects the concept of gender expression not being a fixed notion.  Gender DynamiX is an organisation that deals with expression of sex and gender.  We appeal to the media, politicians and the public to remember that the human rights are for all South Africans.  We are human first before gender, race, class or creed.”

-Ends-

Contacts:

Caroline Bowley 021 633 5287 x 2037, caroline@genderdynamix.org.za

Robert Hamblin 083 226 4683, roberthamblin@genderdynamix.org.za

Liesl Theron 021 633 5287 x 2038, liesl@genderdynamix.org.za

Tebogo Nkoana 021 633 5287 x 2040, tebogo@genderdynamix.org.za

www.genderdynamix.org.za

 

 

COLOUR ME DRAGG

a call out to all drag kings & queens.
we’re recruiting a group of 10 to perform this song for the BIG LOVE! party.

contact
molisanyakale@gmail.com
for more details.

Exodus International sent the following letter to Uganda’s President Museveni regarding The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 currently being considered in the Parliament. The bill would criminalize and prosecute homosexual behavior and would require pastors, missionaries, health care providers and counselors to report those suspected of such behavior.

Exodus International, along with its board members and broader network, opposes this legislation as it inhibits the global Christian church’s mission to share the life-giving truth of the Gospel and extend the compassion of Christ to all.  
November 16, 2009

 

President & Mrs. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
c/o Principal Private Secretary, Amelia Kyambadde
State House Nakasero
P.O. Box 24594
Kampala, Uganda
Dear President & Mrs. Museveni,
As evangelical Christian leaders dedicated to advancing the truths of the Bible worldwide, we commend your work to promote ethics in Uganda. In addition, your efforts to eradicate the HIV/AIDS epidemic have been appropriately praised internationally and we are praying for your continued success.

We want to humbly share our concerns regarding The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, introduced before the Ugandan parliament on October 14, 2009.  First, we believe that sexual crimes against children, homosexual or heterosexual, are the most serious of offenses and should be punished accordingly. Homosexual behavior in consensual relationships, however, is another matter.

While we do not believe that homosexual behavior is what God intended for individuals, we believe that deprivation of life and liberty is not an appropriate or helpful response to this issue. Furthermore, the Christian church must be a safe, compassionate place for gay-identified people as well as those who are confused about and conflicted by their sexuality. If homosexual behavior and knowledge of such behavior is criminalized and prosecuted, as proposed in this bill, church and ministry leaders will be unable to assist hurting men, women and youth who might otherwise seek help in addressing this personal issue. The Christian church cannot and should not condone homosexual living or gay-identified clergy within its leadership, but it must be permitted to extend the love and compassion of Christ to all. We believe that this legislation would make this mission a difficult if not impossible task to carry out.

Many of us and those we know and work with have personally struggled with unwanted homosexual attractions and once lived as gay individuals, but have since found a new identity in Jesus Christ and have gone on to live lives that reflect the teaching of the Christian faith. We sincerely believe that such transformations cannot best be achieved in an environment of government coercion where the vital support, care and compassion of others in the Christian community is discouraged and prosecuted.

 Please consider the influence this law will have upon those who may seek help in dealing with this difficult issue as well as church and ministry leaders committed to demonstrating the compassion of Christ to all. We are praying for you, for this matter and for the people of Uganda.

 

Sincerely,

 

Alan Chambers
President of Exodus International, Orlando, Florida
Former homosexual

Randy Thomas
Executive Vice President, Exodus International, Orlando, Florida
Former homosexual

Christopher Yuan
Adjunct Instructor, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois
HIV Survivor
AIDS Activist
Former homosexual

Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D.
Member of the Clinical Advisory Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors
Grove City, Pennsylvania

re/posted for a/nother critical study of  the voices that shape public discourse…if we were to apply a foucauldian analysis to the series being presented since October 14th, (en before)  it becomes clearer that the traiblazers are not Chege, Ngengi, Bahati or even  SMUG…even though they are all intricately connected in this ‘gay’ matrix.

the blazes are in every single arrest, and every one who is afraid to come  OUT, and talk back….

the trail blazers are the ones, who in Audre’s words, speak! even when they are afraid their words will not be heard nor welcomed.

the trails are  in the ones who speak, because they know when they remain silent they are still afraid….

they know it is better to speak.

and we’ve been speaking since way before chege & ngengi.

you wanna know who some of the real (purpose/full) trailblazers are?  they are people like fanny anny eddy & pouline kimani, victor mukasa & audrey mbugua, bombastic kasha & david kuria…..they are many more people than these folks. but i digress….

here’s yet a/nother article on Chege and Ngenge….

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Source: The Nation

After the Sunday Nation broke the story of the gay wedding of Kenyans Daniel Chege and Charles Ngengi in London, hardly any other subject could get attention on call-ins into FM stations, the Kenyan blogosphere, and in Nairobi pub conversations.

Chege and Ngegi are the first Kenyan gay couple known to have publicly wedded. Chege has been in a previous gay partnership that broke up.

Most of the comments were, predictably, critical—and some downright hostile. By almost a ration of 10 to 1, Kenyans thought what Chege and Ngegi had done was disgraceful, a shame upon the country, their families, an affront to God and good old African values.

But then something that no one seems to have paid attention to happened. In a follow-up, KTN TV station went to the village of Chege’s parents, and in one scene that has proved particularly controversial, stopped a very elderly relative of Chege along the village path, flashed the photo of the gay couple, and wanted to know her views.

SMS messages and Tweets started flying even as the programme aired. By a ratio of, again, 10 to 1 most Kenyans felt that KTN had crossed the line in the way it treated Chege’s and Ngegi’s rural relatives. One remarkable collection of this anger was on Stockskenya.com, whose users abandoned their usually staid conversation on finance and business issues, and plunged into the more dramatic world of privacy and sex.

This reaction was surprising, because what KTN did would have passed off as good, aggressive reporting if it had been any other story. As far as most people are concerned, Chege and Ngengi went too far to break a taboo. But the fact that so many people also seemed turned off by a follow-up of the story that went beyond the couple to their relatives, suggested that Chege and Ngengi have broken a psychological barrier.

Going forward, discussions of gay issues will probably be less difficult. And, I suspect, the next story of another Kenyan gay couple is unlikely to attract as much attention. The novelty, or shock factor, around gay relationships in Kenya – and indeed people in the know say Kenya has East Africa’s largest gay community – has cracked considerably.

Chege and Ngengi never intended it that way. After all, they refused to speak to the BBC about their wedding, and their only other comment has been a plea to the media and the public to leave their families alone.

However, if eventually Kenya comes to hold a more tolerant public attitude toward gay people, history will show that Chege and Ngengi were the ones who opened public minds. They could be the accidental trailblazers for gay rights in Kenya and, who knows, maybe East Africa

Dear Madam Secretary:
We write to raise serious concerns about the “Anti-Homosexual Bill” introduced in Uganda’s parliament earlier this month. This egregious bill represents one of the most extreme anti-equality measures ever proposed in any country and would create a legal pretext for depriving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans of their liberty, and even their lives. Particularly given the United States’ substantial contribution to Uganda through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we believe swift action is necessary to ensure Ugandan leaders understand this bill is wholly unacceptable and antithetical to democratic values.
 
As you may know, the “Anti-Homosexual Bill” would increase the penalty for “same sex sexual acts” to life in prison, limit the distribution of information on HIV through a provision criminalizing the “promotion of homosexuality,” and establish the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by death for anyone in Uganda who is HIVpositive and has consensual same-sex relations. Further, the bill includes a provision that could lead to the imprisonment for up to three years of anyone who fails to report within 24 hours the identities of everyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or who supports human rights for people who are, to the government.
 
Last year, PEPFAR spending in Uganda amounted to almost $300 million, representing approximately 2.60% of the total Ugandan economy. According to these estimates, the U.S. spends approximately $12 dollars per person in Uganda through PEPFAR. Dr. Eric Goosby, Ambassador atLarge and Global AIDS Coordinator, has made it clear that he believes efforts to combat discrimination against LGBT individuals are an important part of PEPFAR’s mission to combat global HIV/AIDS. During his Senate confirmation hearing in June, Dr. Goosby stated, “if confirmed, I look forward to working with field and headquarters staff, Congress and others in the Administration to ensure that PEPFAR effectively targets the most at-risk and vulnerable populations – including LGBT populations – with culturally appropriate prevention, care and treatment interventions.” The “Anti-Homosexual Bill” would clearly impede Dr. Goosby and PEPFAR’s goals by seriously compromising efforts to reach LGBT communities in Uganda. We believe it would undermine the substantial U.S. contribution to Uganda through PEPFAR and raise serious questions about the effectiveness of this global health investment.
 
Madame Secretary, we applaud your leadership on LGBT issues and steadfast commitment to human rights. It is our fervent hope that you will use every means possible to convey to Ugandan leaders that this bill is appalling, reckless, and should be withdrawn immediately. We stand ready to work with you in addressing this matter and look forward to your response. If you have any questions, please contact Amber Shipley of Rep. Baldwin’s staff at 202-225-2906.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Tammy Baldwin
Howard Berman
Gary Ackerman

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.