In line with Uganda’s ever-fervent attempts to quell discussion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer rights in the nation, President Museveni and the nation’s lawmakers have proposed a bill that would effectively restrict the abilities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with any LGBT-related motives. The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act signed into law by President Museveni earlier this year outlines a life-in-prison sentence for anyone labeled an “aggravated” homosexual. This includes anyone that has homosexual intercourse repeatedly.
Shortly after the Act was signed into law in the East African Nation, however, the Director General of Health Services broadened it to suggest that healthcare workers essentially out LGBT Ugandans seeking treatment. Buzzfeed notes that the guidelines for healthcare workers sketch multiple, broad instances in which confidentiality regarding a person’s sexuality may be breached. Signing those guidelines is Jane Ruth Aceng, who also authored a pseudo-scientific, largely inaccurate report on homosexuality.
Now, Junior Internal Affairs Minister James Baba has told Reuters that certain NGOs have come to Uganda with the intention of “promoting” homosexuality. Current legislation already promises a prison sentence for directors of LGBT NGOs, but the new, proposed law would prohibit foreign NGOs from influencing Ugandan politics and would require that such NGOs divulge all of their financial information.
It keeps getting worse for LGBTQ people in Uganda, a story that has been covered internationally since the “Kill the Gays” bill was introduced by the Uganda Parliament last year. Due to international pressures, that bill was taken off of the floor. However, the bill resurfaced this year with a life-in-prison sentence in lieu of the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuals”. While international bodies, such as the World Health Organization, and nations like the U.S. and U.K. have threatened to enforce sanctions against the country, momentum against gay people in Uganda has continued to grow.
In connection with the growing anti-LGBT movement in Uganda are prominent United States religious leaders with a vocal history of anti-gay sentiment. In 2002, Scott Lively, who is head of Abiding Truth Ministries and is noted by the Southern Poverty Law Center – which defines hate groups by a particular set of criteria and tracks individuals that use their power to preach propaganda – traveled to Uganda in order to impress the supposed dangers of homosexuality upon lawmakers there. While Lively is not the only anti-gay American that has been accused of influencing controversial foreign politics, Frank Mugisha, director of an LGBT coalition in the nation, claims that Scott Lively was essentially the architect of the bill.
Notably, Advocate author Sunnivie Brydum points out that President Museveni’s war on LGBT people in Uganda comes at a time when there is an increasing amount of discontent with the nation’s level of poverty and lack of human services. In addition to the President’s outright attacks on LGBTQ-rights in Uganda, Parliament passed a law outlawing more than three people from politically organizing without a police permit. President Museveni will be up for re-election in 2016 in a state that is increasingly criticized as corrupt. Opponents fear that legislation he and his party continue to draft will cripple any chance of a fair opposition campaign.
By: James Ryder