Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pastor Ssempa Lies about Uganda's Kill-the-Gays Bill

Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 has attracted all kinds of unwanted attention from the world.
President Obama briefly spoke out against it at the Family-sponsored National Prayer Breakfast, calling it “odious”.

Ugandan Pastor (and former break dancing champion!), Martin Ssempa, has responded to President Obama’s condemnation of the bill here.
Ssempa, who calls himself, “A passionate voice in the global fight against HIV/AIDS” responded to Obama’s comments in a statement, published by Kampala’s Family Policy and Human Rights Centre, available here.
Martin SsempaHe starts:
President Barack Obama makes two mistakes; first Ugandaʼs anti-homosexuality law only prescribes the capital punishment in cases where the victims are children or the handicapped.
So he’s saying that the death penalty will only apply for pedophiles, statutory rape, or having sex with a disabled person.
That sounds sensible. But it’s a lie.
The relevant section of the bill: (Anything quoted directly from the Bill will be in italics)

3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the
(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;
(b) offender is a person living with HIV;
(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;
(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;
(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;
(f) offender is a serial offender, or
(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or
thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by enable any person to have
unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,
(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction
to suffer death.
(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a
medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

Let’s go through this line by line.
3 (1) a. This appears to apply the death penalty to anyone who has homosexual sex with a person under 18, regardless of consent or the age of the “offender”. Thus the 18 year old lover of a 17 year old could be put to death. However, this does seem to be consistent with Uganda’s heterosexual age of consent law.
b. If the offender is HIV positive. This section puts no requirement on the law to prove that the “offender” had any knowledge of her of his status, and in fact provides in 3 (3) that an HIV test may be performed on anyone caught engaged in a an act of “aggravated homosexuality”. It also fails to specify whether the other partner must be HIV negative in order for a crime to have been commited. Barrier methods appear to be ignored in this case. It appears two HIV positive partners using barrier methods, neither of whom are aware of her or his HIV status could be put to death under this section.
c. and d. refer to having homosexual sex with your own children or people over whom you have authority or responsibility. This should clearly be offenses, regardless of the sexuality of the people involved. Death penalty offense? Debatable.
e. If the victim is a person with a disability. For the purposes of this bill, the word “victim” is defined as an unwilling participant (and therefore thankfully excludes convicting the sighted partner of a consenting blind person). Like c. and d., this exists to protect the vulnerable. Again, whether the death penalty should apply probably depends on your view of the death penalty.
f. This is the one they all wish we’d ignore. In this bill, a “serial offender” is defined as: a person who has previous convictions of the offence of homosexuality or related offences

Homosexuality is defined in the bill as well. “homosexuality” means same gender or same sex sexual acts. A person who is convicted of homosexuality (they use the plural so I’ll assume more than once) and re-offends can also be subject to the death penalty. A person who has had homosexual sex three times in her or his life could be put to death, if she or he were convicted for each instance.

Also — related offenses? What are those?

7. Aiding and abating homosexuality.
8. Conspiracy to engage in homosexuality.
9. Procuring homosexuality. by threats, etc.
10. Detention with intent to commit homosexuality.
11. Brothels.
12. Same sex marriage.
13. Promotion of homosexuality.
14. Failure to disclose the offence.

So the death penalty could well be applied to the allies of lesbians and gays, and those who would prefer their friends/family members/colleagues didn’t get put to death and therefore fail to report homosexual activity.
Secondly, homosexuals and lesbians are never targetted for who they are, rather what they do.
(from Martin Ssempa’s statement)
I hate to nitpick (no wait, I love to) but the very definition of “lesbian” in the bill is: a female who engages in sexual intimacy with another female. The very definition of lesbian in the bill is a woman defined by her sexual activity with another woman.

Another problem with this particular offense of Aggravated Homosexuality is that it confuses rape with consensual homosexual activity. Sections c., d. and g. (and to some extent a.) deal with sexual activity with someone who either denies consent, or is not lawfully able to consent, either through malicious intoxication, disability or age.

So, surprise, he’s lying, and it’s obvious from the text of the bill he endorses that the bill has nothing to do with HIV/AIDS prevention as he would have us all believe. One last quote from the bill will speak for itself. Spot the many mentions of HIV/AIDS prevention.

3.0. The objectives of the Bill
The objectives of the Bill are to:
(a) provide for marriage in Uganda as that contracted only between a man and a woman;
(b) prohibit and penalize homosexual behavior and related practices in Uganda as they constitute
a threat to the traditional family;
(e) prohibit ratification of any international treaties, conventions, protocols, agreements and
declarations which are contrary or inconsistent with the provisions of this Act;
(d) prohibit the licensing of organizations which promote homosexuality.

I welcome any and all comments and corrections.

Reblogged from here

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