Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has pledged to block the harsh Anti-Homosexuality Bill “as currently drafted,” a delegation from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights reported yesterday after a meeting with him in Uganda.
The RFK Center delegation reported that Museveni calling the legislation “fascist” and said “he will consult with his party and plans to introduce a new piece of legislation aimed at protecting minors from being coerced into sexual activity.”
However, an LGBT rights coalition in Uganda expressed concern that this future bill might also outlaw the “promotion” of homosexuality, a vaguely worded concept similar to what Russia has imposed — which has led to an anti-gay crackdown there.
In an update that journalist Andy Kopsa posted on the situation in Uganda, that coalition said:
“President Museveni continues to promise that he will carefully review the bill before he signs, and it seems that the government doesn’t support criminalization of consensual same-sex relationships. Our greatest concern is the promotion clause in the AH Bill that we expect that the government is very supportive of.”
The coalition discussed the uncertainty about whether Museveni has received a copy of the bill, which the parliament passed Dec. 20. Once he receives it, the president has 30 days in which to sign it or to reject it and send it back to parliament; otherwise, it would become law without his signature.
A caucus of Museveni’s ruling party, the NRM, is scheduled to meet Jan. 20 “to formulate an official party position on the bill, as they didn’t seem to have one as the speaker of parliament bulldozed the bill through parliament,” the coalition stated.
The coalition also said that LGBT people in Uganda are fearful for their safety, but only one person has been arrested at this point, and she was soon released:
“As far as the Security of the LGBTI community is concerned, there haven’t been any major incidents reported to us, except for one reported case of a transgender woman who was arrested while walking around Owino market in a local suburb in Kampala.
“She was later released without official charge. Apparently the police wanted to find out if she was a boy or a girl. She was later released without charge.
“Other reported incidents have been those from people who have promised to report known or suspected homosexuals to police once the bill is signed into law.
“The community is very vigilant in exercising their personal security and organisations who are members of the coalition have been advised to formulate security plans and follow them accordingly.
“We hope that the security situation doesn’t get worse in the weeks and months to come.”
The coalition also noted a new report on how Uganda’s existing laws about same-sex conduct have been enforced. It found that the laws, on the books since colonial times, “are not being used to prosecute but rather to persecute LGBTI and suspected LGBTI persons in Uganda.”