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Cablegate: Uganda: Anti-Homosexuality Bill Remains Unchanged, Not

VZCZCXRO3482
RR RUEHGI RUEHRN RUEHROV
DE RUEHKM #1396/01 3450941
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110940Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0003
INFO IGAD COLLECTIVE
RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0001
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0001

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KAMPALA 001396

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KDEM UG
SUBJECT: UGANDA: ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL REMAINS UNCHANGED, NOT
LIKELY TO BE DEBATED IN PARLIAMENT UNTIL MARCH

REF: KAMPALA 01344; KAMPALA 01381

1. (SBU) Summary: On December 10, Member of Parliament and sponsor
of Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill David Bahati said a Bloomberg
newswire report misquoted Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo and that
provisions on the death penalty and life imprisonment for
homosexuals remain in the bill. A separate but apparently equally
erroneous December 10 local newspaper article claimed that the
Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) endorsed the bill. An
IRCU official told the Mission that the IRCU has yet to formulate a
position on the legislation. The ICRU receives PEPFAR funding, and
given the popularity of the bill in Uganda, it will likely emerge
in the weeks ahead that the leaders of some organizations that
directly or indirectly receive USG funding support the legislation.
For example, two faculty members at a Ugandan university about to
receive $1.5 million in USAID central funding recently spoke out
publicly in favor of the bill, albeit in their personal capacities.
Contacts continue to report that Parliament's Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs Committee will likely not open public
hearings on the bill until perhaps March 2010 at the earliest. End
Summary.

-------------------------------------------

Anti-Homosexuality Bill Unchanged

-------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Bahati told the U.S. Mission on December 11 that a
Bloomberg newswire report stating that Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo
had agreed to remove provisions on the death penalty and life
imprisonment from Bahati's anti-homosexuality bill was in error.
Bahati said the report misquoted Buturo and that Buturo never
mentioned removing these provisions. Bahati said he is following
international coverage of the bill on the internet, and that all
aspects of the bill will be reviewed publicly by Parliament's Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. Bahati added that he has
asked Buturo to refrain from commenting on the bill as the
legislation is sponsored by Bahati and not the Government of
Uganda.

3. (SBU) On December 9, the only human rights lawyer in Uganda
courageous enough to legally defend Ugandan homosexuals told the
Mission that he does not believe the Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs Committee will open debate on the bill until March 2010 at
the earliest (septel). The lawyer noted that the bill now in
Parliament is actually a moderated version of an even more
offensive first draft that mysteriously disappeared on the way to
the government printing office. He observed that the Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs Committee has much more important legislation
to consider - such as critical electoral reforms that must be
passed by the end of February - and that the anti-homosexuality
legislation will likely remain stationary for at least several
months. Along similar lines,

on December 11, the Chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Committee told PolOff that there is still no movement on the bill
and that his Committee has more important issues to consider (ref.
A). The Chairman noted, however, that he has been travelling
within the region - he is currently in Kinshasa - and therefore not
up-to-date on events in Kampala.

--------------------------------------------- -

Local Groups Pro-Anti-Homosexuality

--------------------------------------------- --

4. (SBU) A second and apparently equally erroneous press report
appeared on December 10 in the local Daily Monitor newspaper. The
Monitor reported that after a three-day conference, the
Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) endorsed the bill and

KAMPALA 00001396 002 OF 002


called on the Ugandan government to refuse international aid from
countries opposed to criminalizing homosexuality. IRCU Secretary
General, Joshua Kitakule, told the Mission on December 10 that the
Monitor article was inaccurate and that quotations attributed to
him regarding the need to criminalize homosexuality and reject
donor funding were actually articulated by Bahati. Kitakule said
the IRCU has yet to articulate a position on the anti-homosexuality
legislation.

5. (SBU) More than 200 local religious leaders belong to the IRCU,
and USAID has a contract with ICRU funded by PEPFAR for HIV/AIDS
counseling, testing, and prevention. IRCU has about 50 faith-based
sub-partners, and it is possible that the leaders of some of these
organizations have come out in support of this bill. Pastor Martin
Ssempa's Campus Alliance to Wipe Out AIDS is one of these
sub-contractors, carrying out abstinence work among students at
Makerere University with IRCU PEPFAR funds. Ssempa is one of the
most vocal proponents of the anti-homosexuality legislation (ref.
B).

6. (SBU) Two faculty members employed by Ugandan Christian
University (UCU) have publicly endorsed the anti-homosexuality
bill. UCU is slated to receive a $1.5m USAID/DCHA ASHA grant for
the construction of a new library. UCU Vice Chancellor, Amcit
Professor Rev. Stephen Noll, told the Mission on December 9 that
the statements of UCU faculty member, Rev. Canon Michael Okwii
Essakan, who a local newspaper quoted as stating that not even
"cockroaches" engage in homosexuality, "in no way represent the
position of the University." Noll said he communicated to Essakan
that "in my opinion his reference to homosexuality was
inappropriate... and his example of cockroaches was reprehensible."
However, Noll has yet to publically distance the University from
Essakan's comments or a November 24 newspaper column endorsing the
bill by another UCU faculty member, Reverand Dr. Fred Mwesigwa.
LANIER

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