New threat in Uganda

Uganda parliament building
Uganda parliament building

Bad news from Sexual Minorities Uganda on Aug. 6:

The dreaded draconian Public Order Management Bill has been passed by Ugandan Parliament. Chaos has marred the house as the Bill was passed.

Here’s what it means, in SMUG’s words:

The dreadful, illegitimate, unconstitutional Public Order Management Bill (POMB):

  • Makes public discussions on the state of the country illegal and any space these discussions are held a crime scene.
  •  If you are in a Christian home cell and you make a comment on potholes, corruption, KCCA, failed leadership, etc., you commit a crime.
  • If you are having a wedding meeting and anyone attending even suggests that you should increase the price of items because of inflation, you can be arrested for convening the wedding meeting, making the statement and the owner of the premises or private residence where these discussions are held will also be held liable.

Currently unknown:

Will public discussions of the similarly dreaded but still stalled Anti-Homosexuality Bill be affected?

Associated Press reported:

Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda
Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda

Amnesty International said Monday that the legislation “represents a serious blow to open political debate” in a country that is seeing more and more protests against President Yoweri Museveni, who has held power for nearly three decades.

“The bill imposes wide ranging restrictions on public meetings and gives the police unprecedented powers to prohibit and disperse public gatherings of a political nature,” the rights watchdog said in a statement.

The law gives the police powers to control public meetings, including the use of force to break up gatherings held without prior authorization. Even meetings of a political nature held between three people must be authorized by the police, according to the law. Activists who had tried to challenge the legislation in court note that the country’s constitution guarantees the right to hold peaceful gatherings.

The bill was passed amid a crackdown against street protesters in the capital, Kampala, where the security forces routinely use tear gas and live ammunition to disperse opposition supporters. Last month police restricted the movements of the mayor of Kampala, an opposition politician who is a fierce critic of the president, as well as Kizza Besigye, a three-time presidential candidate.

Uganda has been the scene since 2011 of a protest movement against corruption and the high cost of living. But most of the planned rallies have been actively blocked by the police under what they call the “preventive arrest” of protest leaders. The rights group Human Rights Watch says Uganda’s security forces killed at least nine people in confrontations with protesters in April 2011.

 

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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