"TO KILL... OR NOT TO KILL"
Yes, that is the question. The "Kill the Gays Bill" situation in Uganda has kept the lives of many Uganda gays on hold literally: for more than 18 months, the homophobia spurred on by the U.S.'s Christian Right has given the world a more prolonged and agonizing play than Shakespeare could create. Amidst the backdrop of a righteously arrogant regime headed by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his wife, Janet, with a supporting cast of the virulently anti-gay legislator, David Bahati, and his clerical counterparts, Pastor Martin Ssempa and the American "prophet" Lou Engle, the future of Uganda's gays has played to the rest of western civilization with deadly seriousness.
Unfortunately for Uganda, however, the world is very tired of the play: over one million people around the world have signed petitions against the bill and yesterday the U.S. State Department issued this blistering statement:
"No amendments, no changes, would justify the passage of this odious bill," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters today. "Both (President Barack Obama) and (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) publicly said it is inconsistent with universal human rights standards and obligations."
Another situation yesterday was perhaps more indicative of Museveni's political hold on the people of Uganda: several ministers of parliament WALKED OUT during the debate about the bill. Speculation as to whether or not they were influenced by the rash of "corrective rapes"* in South Africa and other African nations is rife because they were female.
Perhaps because of the proposed death penalty for repeated homosexual conduct, the other points about the bill have received less coverage: seven years for anyone "promoting" homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuals, or not reporting homosexual behavior. And while seven years seems a far cry from the death penalty, it must be pointed out that the conditions of Uganda's prisons are quite lethal: with a national life-expectancy of only 53 years of age, excessive overcrowding (4-5 times the legal occupancy), and poor medical care, a seven-year stint could very well be equivalent to a death sentence.
Also between the lines: seven years for any landlord renting to a homosexual, seven years for any lawyer defending a homosexual in court and impromptu house-to-house witch hunts ferreting out gays or personal enemies. (NOTE: this last strategy has been attributed to Pastor Ssempe, accused of labeling critics as gay so they can be silenced.).
Museveni's political future, while not directly linked to the bill's passage, may be augmented or diminished by it, since his image of late has been punctuated with incidents making him look too much like his former enemy, Idi Amin.
"The police have the right to regulate assembly in Uganda."
A recent (May 6th) interview with Museveni shows just how difficult it is for him to explain his actions and how dictatorial his stance has gotten, with his police and military having supreme authority over citizens. One blogger had this to say:
After being personally apprised by my sources and contacts in Uganda, I have received first hand information of torture and secret death houses being used the Museveni regime. People who are opposed to his party are being kidnapped and brutally tortured.
My straight friend who peacefully opposed Museveni, simply by running for an office, has been kidnapped, tortured and released, after being injected with a slow death causing poison. There will be no dead bodies in torture houses. The people will die on the streets weeks after the bruises and physical signs of torture have disappeared. This is not conjecture. My Gay friends are hiding in fear of a law that could result in life in prison and perhaps death.
Museveni, of course, would not be in power without help: both the U.S. Christian Right and Mrs. Museveni have come together to entrench the ad hoc dictatorship. Janet Museveni (also a minister of district affairs) has joined forces with Rick Warren, Lou Engle, Scott Lively, (and locally) Bishop Oyet and Martin Ssempa, Uganda's infamous "Eat da poo poo" pastor.*
How strong these ties are is evident in the video below: Scott Lively's erroneous (and unprofessional) teaching of the causes homosexuality ("I know more about this subject than anyone else in the world") was one of the events that triggered the bill. "Prophet" Lou Engle's close relationship with the Musevenis has fostered the idea that he was also involved in the bill.**
Other odious relationships include The Family (OpEdNews writer Ralph Stone wrote an in-depth article about Museveni's and David Bahati's ties to The Family) and Family Research Council, the only organization to openly criticize the U.S. Congress for denouncing the draconian bill.