An “Odious” Law

In my last post I discussed the way the first introduction of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2009 and homosexuality in general have been covered in some Ugandan newspapers. This coverage was extremely negative, sometimes calling for violence against the homosexual community.  The Anti-Homosexuality bill and these hateful newspaper articles were met with opposition internationally.

The day following the bill’s introduction, October 15th 2009, Human Right’s Watch, Amnesty International, The World’s AIDS Organization and several other organizations released a statement asking the Ugandan parliament to withdraw it immediately. They acknowledged the impact that the media had in perpetuating homophobia leading up to the bill’s introduction stating, “Over recent months, there has been increased campaigning against homosexuality in Uganda, led by churches and anti-gay groups. The media have joined this campaign, and have publicly pointed to individuals they accuse of being gay or lesbian. People suspected of being gay have faced death threats and been physically assaulted. Many have been ostracized by their families or faced discrimination, including dismissal from their place of employment.” The link to the full article is below:

C-SPAN showed clips from the 2010 National Prayer Breakfast where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both denounced Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. During the event Hillary stated that she called President Museveni in December of ’09 expressing her concern about the bill and President Obama deemed it “odious” saying that, “We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it’s here in the United States or … more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda”. A YouTube video showing the C-SPAN clips is included below:

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The New York Times also published an article soon after MP David Bahati introduced the bill, headlined “Uganda: Homosexuality Bill Opposed” depicting American opposition to the bill and asking parliament to drop it. The article showed the United State’s opinion that the bill was a violation of human rights and that it would set a bad precedent for other African nations. Less than a month later the NY Times published another article, “Americans’ Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push” exposing the visit that three American evangelicals Christians (Scott Lively, Caleb Brundidge and Don Shmierer) made to Uganda to preach against homosexuality just months before the introduction of the bill.

BBC also had a good deal of coverage on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill soon after it was tabled. Below is a sound clip that BBC published on December 10th 2009 from a debate between MP David Bahati and Reverend Jide Macaulay, a gay pastor in which Bahati stated that, “We (Uganda) think that homosexuality is not a human right… it is a behavior learned and can be unlearned”.

The strong opposition to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill presented in international media starkly contrast the way the bill and homosexuality in general have been portrayed in Ugandan media. Just as the New York Times, BBC and C-SPAN influence people’s opinions on homosexuality and for the most part encourage them to be open-minded and accepting of the issue, the Red Pepper and Rolling Stone influence the Ugandan public in the opposite manner.

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