Saving Uganda From Sin - Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 Founder David Bahiti
Uganda's Member of Parliament David Bahati on homosexuality: We love gays but we hate what is in them.
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First published: June 13, 2011
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Ndorwa East MP, David Bahati who came up with the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 had hoped the recent 8th Parliament would pass the bill. Despite advice by the Ugandan government to shelve the bill, and pressure from the international community and local human rights groups, he insists that there is need for fresh legislation on homosexuality and vows to ensure the bill is passed by the 9th Parliament. We interviewed him recently on the controversial legislation against homosexuality in Uganda before the end of the 8th Parliament.
What was the objective for introducing this otherwise controversial bill?
We have two grounds for this. One was that homosexuality, while it is illegal in Uganda; there are no efficient laws that are really in place to stop the recruitment of our children; to stop the promotion and to care for the victims and rehabilitation of the victims of the recruitment.
There is also no law in place to stop same sex marriages in churches and in mosques and we have also seen overtime, pro-gay groups working undercover through organizations like Freedom and Roam, as well as Sexual Minorities Uganda to promote homosexuality. So there was need to have a comprehensive law that will defend and protect the children of Uganda from this gathering evil in the society. There is a need to stop the distortion within our marriage setup and also protect the decency of our society so this is the background to it.
Did you have any comprehensive research prior to introducing the bill?
Yes, there was massive research on recruitment, on funding, and on the promotion. Also considered were the religious and cultural issues regarding the bill before we could table it before the House.
This bill has created a lot of controversy, especially from the international community who insist that the bill violates human rights of gay people. What is your take on this?
I think the coming-in of the international community is a contradiction of democracy. This bill is moved through a democratic process; moved by Ugandans to protect Ugandans. It is a proposal before Parliament and is being debated. Anybody will have a chance to put their views but for people who claim to be champions of democracy to want to suppress democracy around this bill; to suppress debate on this bill is a contradiction of democracy.
But we are aware that President Yoweri Museveni admitted coming under pressure from the international community on the bill and distanced the government from it. Do you think the government has withdrawn support for your bill?
As far as I am concerned, the President does not support homosexuality. He has said this over and over again, even though he received a lot of pressure from the international community. But that will not in any way make me lose concentration on making sure that this bill goes through, all the way from the committee stage to the House for debate. This is my issue and the Executive’s concerns can be addressed through other relevant authorities.
Anti-gay protests in Uganda
We are also very well aware of threats by the international community to close their financial taps if the government does not withdraw the bill from Parliament. What is your comment on that?
I think we support any aid and every aid that is aimed at prospering the children of Uganda. Any aid that is aimed at destructing the future of the children of Uganda is a trade off that we cannot afford to take. So if one of the conditions of aid is that we should accept homosexuality as a human right, then I think that is aid not worth taking.
Now, the bill has been before the Parliamentary Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee since October 2009. Don’t you think its status quo might stay that way, given the controversy it has created since its introduction in Parliament?
It would be our wish to see the debate on this bill come before the 8th Parliament ends in May 2011. The chairman of the committee, Hon. Stephen Tashobya said that he will make sure this bill is debated because it is urgently needed by the people of Uganda.
So we will wait and see how it moves in the committee but we are hopeful that it will be debated in a straight forward manner since it does not need a lot of consultations since many views of it have been aired out in the public arena. As you are aware, many people have already expressed their views including the international community so it will take little time to do extra consultation before it is brought to the House for debate and this is really our hope.
So what happens in the event that the debate on the bill is pushed to the 9th Parliament?
I am a very optimistic person and I would want to concentrate on taking it day by day to see how this moves. I am still hopeful that this will work in the 9th Parliament.
Have you received personal attacks for your stand on homosexuality?
Well, the threats have been there but I think it is a sacrifice that one can take. The threats have been there; the intimidation by different countries from stopping me from traveling there, as well as threats to my life but it all amounts to nothing. The children of Uganda are more important than any other thing in this country and we will continue to be strengthened in our efforts.
Uganda's Member of Parliament David Bahati.
So, are you being funded by any international organizations for the crusade?
This is a Ugandan bill and I have never received funding, not a single dime from anybody outside the country regarding funding for this. I think the claims that there has been some international community trying to support us, whether financially or otherwise, is a conspiracy being concocted by the pro-gay community to give them leverage to attack the sovereignty of our country but the people of Uganda and the Members of Parliament are aware of this.
That is the reason we urgently need this bill to come to the floor of Parliament. I assure you, the moment it comes out of the committee; it will not take us days to get this bill passed. But I would like to make it clear that I do not get any funding from anyone regarding this bill.
Recently, a Cabinet sub-committee formed to study the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2010 is said to have called for the bill’s withdrawal, saying the offences proposed in the bill are already catered for by the Penal Code Act and the proposed Sexual Offences bill.
Yes, I met the subcommittee but in the meeting I was not asked to withdraw the Bill. The meeting was aimed at improving the Bill but upholding the values of our country. The Bill still stands as it is and there is no effort to have it withdrawn.
Now that the Anti Homosexuality bill is before Parliament does that mean your crusade ends there?
Well, as a Member of Parliament, I’ll do all it takes to push for a legislation in place which will be a legal framework. I expect other institutions such as the churches, mosques and civil society will continue to campaign to ensure that our children are aware of the dangers of homosexuality in terms of HIV/AIDS, lifespan and the dangers of the vice.
But also as a parent, I’ll continue to play my role in the family and also as an MP by ensuring that this issue does not only stop in Parliament. It has to go beyond Parliament because as MPs, we can only legislate but there are other things like sensitization, which can be taken on by other people. I am very happy that the religious leaders are already in motion to move this.
What would be your final words on homosexuality, especially on those involved in the acts?
What I know is that homosexuality in our country is not a human right but we also know that it is also a human right in other countries but we have mutual respect. There are those issues where we have not found a common ground and I think homosexuality is not a universally accepted human right and therefore we should send a signal that this bill comes in to protect our children, to stop its promotion and save our marriages. It has nothing to do with hate of gays. We love gays but we hate what is in them.
The second point is that Uganda is an independent country and people should respect what we are doing because this is an issue which we should debate. We are moving to ensure that this bill is passed this term and we want to concentrate on that first. But as you know, I am an MP up to 2016 so we still have a lot of time to continue considering this bill.
So, for those who engage in this act, they should know that it is not inborn; it is a learned behavior that can be unlearned. We also appeal to you to get out of this sin and repent and come back to normalcy so you can live the lives that God purposed you to live. Those are my final words.
Thanks you, Hon. Bahati for allowing UGPulse.com to have this interview with you.
You are welcome.
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First published: June 13, 2011
Olive Eyotaru Yemima is a graduate of Mass Communication. She first worked with Ultimate Media in 2005 as an intern and returned in 2007 as a features writer.
A Ugandan talented creative writer, Eyotaru now writes for both the local and international media and continues to shine in the media every day that passes.