Church and State Recommends Rejection of Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill

Church and State Recommends Rejection of Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill

Last week a special committee organized by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has recommended that virtually every clause of the anti-gay bill drafted by Uganda backbencher David Bahati be rejected. As reported here,

The recommendations … come close to dismissing Mr Bahati’s draft legislation. The committee, put together to advise the government after Mr Bahati’s draft legislation left Uganda condemned by sections of the international community, looked deep into the language, tone and relevance of the draft legislation, dissecting every clause to determine its usefulness…. The result left the draft legislation almost bare, as nearly all of the clauses were found either redundant, repetitive of existing laws, or even useless…. It was hoped … that the Cabinet committee would make certain amendments to the draft law. As it turned out, the committee critiqued Mr Bahati’s work so deeply that no amendments were proposed.

It is expected that the Parliament will now reject the bill. The head of the special committee, Adolf Mwesige, said “he expected the full Parliament to vote down the bill within weeks.” Reportedly President Museveni also has promised to veto the bill if presented to him by Parliament. As with the United States, it would require a two-thirds vote to override his veto, which appears unlikely.

Several months earlier, the two largest conservative segments of the Ugandan Christian community–the Catholics and the Anglicans–likewise condemned the bill. In January, the Ugandan Catholic Church condemned the bill. As reported here:

The titular head of the Catholic Church in Uganda has weighed in on the proposed anti-homosexuality law, saying he rejects it because it is “at odds with the core values” of Christians. But while Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga’s opposition to the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill is based on compassion, the cleric retains the view that homosexuality is immoral and violates God’s will. “The Bible says homosexuality is strictly forbidden,” Dr Lwanga said in a statement made public yesterday. “However, the Church equally teaches the Christian message of respect, compassion, and sensitivity…. [I]n a country where homosexuality is taboo and where many preachers have condemned gays, Dr Lwanga’s comments will be seen as unlikely opposition to a piece of legislation that proposes death or life imprisonment for gay people.

Then in February the conservative Ugandan Anglican church weighed in and also condemned the bill:

The country’s Anglicans yesterday added their voice against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Like the Catholics before them, the Church of Uganda officially rejected the Bill…. [T]he latest foray by Church of Uganda, which until last year played host and spiritual home for breakaway conformist American clerics/Anglicans disenchanted over acceptance of homosexuals in the Episcopal Church, deprives MP Bahati of the second biggest bloc after the Catholic Church here earlier raised objections to capital punishment embedded in the Bill.

Without the support of leading Christian denominations in Uganda or the Museveni Administration, it appears that the proposed legislation is dead. As I posted in January, “The goal of scrapping the draconian bill of a Ugandan backbencher should be easily achievable. But what is the best means to that end?” It appears that a combination of external and internal pressure from conservative and liberal groups has provided the appropriate pressure to kill the bill.

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Africa, International Human Rights Law
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