Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, above, is one of only two Ugandan MPs who voted against the country’s controversial and draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 that was passed by Parliament this week.
THE new bill punishes homosexuality by life in prison—and advocates for the death penalty in certain cases.
In an interview published by Open Democracy, Odoi-Oywelowo, a longtime member of Uganda’s ruling party and President Yoweri Museveni’s legal adviser for more than 15 years, said:
Leading up to the first Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2014, we knew that radical Pentecostal communities from the US were sponsoring the introduction of anti-LGBTIQ laws throughout Africa … I call them hate-mongers because that’s all they excel in, vending hatred in Uganda.
He revealed that the initial point of entry for god-besotted vermin was Uganda’s National Prayer Breakfast
They sit over breakfast and pray and make radical hate speeches. They also introduced some money … Last year I was told that those Pentecostal communities spent well over $26m in East Africa to—again—promote this anti-homosexuality law.
I am a liberal, perhaps a radical liberal. I believe that you cannot claim to be a human being, if you do not respect human rights. And this imposes on you an obligation to promote and protect the rights of other human beings … The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke about how pernicious and ghastly it is that people are penalized and killed simply and solely on the basis of their sexual orientation and called on us to all oppose this injustice. I would like to renew his plea today.”
United Nations weighs in
In a statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, above, said the bill’s passing was “deeply disturbing” and threatened to erode gains made over the years. He called the bill “probably among the worst in the world.”
Let us be clear: this is not about ‘values.’ Promoting violence and discrimination against people for who they are and who they love is wrong and any disingenuous attempts to justify this on the basis of ‘values’ should be called out and condemned.
The bill, according to ABC News, was introduced in early March Asuman Basalirwa, a lawmaker who said homosexuality was a “human wrong” that threatened traditional family values and the continuation of humanity.
Grace, an LGBT+ activist, told ABC News in a phone interview.
The vitriol and we receive daily on social media has always been vicious, but nothing like the last few months. Especially following the Anglican church debacle and comments form the president calling us deviants and so on and so forth, the list goes on—this is the climate for us in Uganda.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, above, said the bill “undermines fundamental human rights” of Ugandans and could “reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
He called on Museveni to veto the bill.
In a White House press briefing, National Security Council coordinator John Kirby and Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the bill, saying the East African nation may face repercussions—”perhaps in an economic way”— should the law be enacted.
We’ll have to take a look. No decisions. We’re watching this very, very closely.
The US currently provides Uganda with an annual assistance budget exceeding $950 million as well as health assistance.
Museveni, the president, has said the West has “weird cultures” and has vowed not to bend to Western pressure.
An All Out petition says that if the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is signed into law by Uganda’s President, LGBT+ people face mass arrests and violence.
The new law represents a sweeping crackdown on our human rights and on our citizenship. It criminalizes us just for being who we are. If the Bill is signed into law, we face the prospect of prison sentences of up to twenty years for ‘promoting homosexuality’ and the death penalty for so-called ‘aggravated homosexuality’.
And the hateful and genocidal rhetoric aimed at the LGBT+ community that was voiced in Uganda’s Parliament is now causing a violent and brutal backlash against our community. Unfortunately, I have already witnessed a significant increase in cases of extortion, eviction, denial of healthcare, and savage mob violence.
You also don’t need to be an expert lawyer to know that the draft law violates fundamental human rights guaranteed by our constitution and a range of international human rights instruments that Uganda has signed up to. Our community is strong, resilient and determined. We will be tireless in making the case that this law has no place in a modern, successful, democratic Uganda.
I urge you to sign the petition.
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