The State Minister for Investments, Mr Aston Kajara, yesterday said the government was looking at the Bill with the possibility of withdrawing it. “The government’ official position is that we have enough laws to cover homosexuality acts,” Mr Kajara said. “Government did not sponsor this Bill. It is a private member’ Bill. The government is studying it and we may talk to the honourable Member of Parliament (David Bahati) to consider withdrawing it.”
It was reported earlier today that the death penalty may be dropped from the bill, a relatively small concession, considering the myriad of egregious human rights violations that would remain under the bill’s current language. Jim Burroway points out that, though there have been rumblings in the media that the Ugandan government wants the bill dropped, this latest news is different, and possibly much more encouraging:
…[T]here have been reports in outside media that others within the government were considering dropping the death penalty, but keeping other aspects of the wide-ranging and draconian bill intact. Some of those same reports were reported in Uganda’ independent press, but suggestions that the bill would be dropped have not been made publicly by members of Uganda’ government to Ugandan press. Until now, which is why this may well be a very significant development.
This doesn’t mean the bill is dead. Ardent supporters of the Bill vow a nationwide rally on January 19. It has not been withdrawn, but it is encouraging that a member of Moseveni’ cabinet has given the government’ “official position” that the bill is not needed.
So, the fight is not over yet. And in reality, the fight will continue long after this bill is (hopefully) killed, because there are still malevolent forces both within and outside Uganda who are hellbent on scapegoating the gay community for everything from AIDS to child rape to genocide, and that sort of rhetoric doesn’t die quietly.
But this does mean that the noise we’ve all been making is having an effect.
So, as my favorite singer likes to say, “If it’s too loud, turn it up.”