Nick Clegg describes Ugandan law as ‘abhorrent’

Pink News reports Nick Clegg’s tweet about Uganda’s anti-gay law which was signed off yesterday by President Museveni.

The report includes more detail, but in summary:

The new law punishes first-time offenders with 14 years in jail, and allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality”.

It also makes it a crime not to report gay people to the authorities. Lesbians are covered by the bill for the first time.

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22 Comments

  • What an unbelievably vile law. There is no excuse for it and the UK government collectively (not just Nick Clegg) should be making its voice heard as loudly as is possible on the matter, but also taking immediate, concrete action against Museveni.

  • It should also be taking it up with the Commonwealth. Further information about a recent book on the subject at: http://commonwealth.sas.ac.uk/publications/house-publications/lgbt-rights-commonwealth

  • Agreed, but this needs more than words as a response. aid to uganda should be reviewed urgently to make sure that not a penny is given to its so-called government.

  • Given that it is American evangelical Christians who are behind this let’s hear something constructive from our own church leaders and religious MPs. Silence? No surprise there then.

  • Jenny Barnes 26th Feb '14 - 9:34am

    On Today this morning a Ugandan minister claimed that patient confidentiality, for example for gay men presenting with HIV/AIDS, would be maintained. How does that square with it being a crime not to report gay people to the authorities? Not so well, one suspects.

  • Matt (Bristol) 26th Feb '14 - 10:25am

    @ Robert.

    I am an evangelical Christian. I may have private and conflicted views about the church’s teaching on homosexuality, but I can say without doubt that this law is abhorrent. But let’s look at what government ministers in Uganda said when the law was passed (according to the Guardian):

    “Supporters clapped during the press conference. One MP sitting at a white table in the front row, said: “I hope the Obamas are receiving it live, Desmond Tutu, Cameron … [Museveni] has resisted them.” ”

    That would suggest to me that this bill is deliberately framed to put Musveni as the proponent of ‘traditional’ or ‘African’ values against a perceived corrupt and westernising outside enemy; whether or not American funding is at the back of this (and it probably is there, but pushing against an open door). There’s a direct parallel here with the situation in Russia, whose government is not notably under the influence of American imperialism. The smears ae the same, the equation of homosexuality, ‘soft’, western lifestyles, ‘foreign’ or ‘alien’ values and paedophilia.

    This is all disgusting but it cannot be purely laid at the door of that ‘foreign’ and ‘alien’ bugbear of many UK and European commentators, the ‘US evangelicals’ (who are not as organisationally or intellectually coherent as many would believe – just because one – or several – hardline group – or groups – uses a term to describe themselves, and seeks to define hard what that term means, it does not mean that all who claim that term are in league with them)

    Another factor here is that community leaders in central and subsaharan Africa who want to look ‘strong’ are being tempted into a bidding war with strident and activist Muslim communities, their traditional ‘enemies’; they don’t want to be seen as less ‘strong’ in defending ‘traiditional values’ for fear of losing ground in what are often multiethnic but bireligious communities.

    It may be desirable for westerm Christian voices to be raised against this awful situation (and they are). But do you think there is anything that a leadership with this agenda cannot twist to their own purposes?

    If (say) Justin Welby or SImon Hughes or Pope Francis or whoever speaks out against this to satisy our UK public’s sense of propiety, moral decency and justic, do you think Museveni will not use it as even greater ammunition to posture in front of his own people?

  • Paul in Twickenham 26th Feb '14 - 2:10pm

    @Matt – I take your point. Another example (if on a considerably less outrageous variety) is the newly passed law in Arizona that allows business owners to refuse service to LGBT people because it would conflict with their “religious sensibilities”.

    In exactly the way that you describe above, it is clear that the Arizona governor Jan Brewer is trampling over the rights of LGBT Arizonans for no reason other than to increase her profile among a narrow, sectarian clique on the far shores of the Republican base – and hey, it’s worked, because I had never heard of her before this outrage. Clearly the law will be overturned as it is a fundamental violation of rights but it has served its purpose of increasing Ms Brewer’s media profile even if it created fear and uncertainty for the LGBT citizens of Arizona. How despicable can a politician be?

  • Hatred of gays and lesbians is not a “traditional” or “African” value, but a distinctively “Western” value, imported into countries like Uganda by those engines of so-called civilisation, the missionary societies of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, and other Christian missionary churches. This is not a conflict between Africa and the decadent imperialist “West,” but between the values of 19th-century Europe and the values of (part of) 21st-century Europe.

  • Matt (Bristol) 26th Feb '14 - 5:14pm

    @ David-1, I think I see your point, but do not agree with it entirely because of the parallel Muslim context I mention above. And even if we agree this is the underlying cultural process, certainly this is not how the messages are being played out in public in Africa right now, as robdn’s comments show. My comment was about the cultural ‘spinning’ of the current situation.

    By the way, before anyone rushes to condemn me, I condemn myself: I was ambiguous about whether same-sex marriage should be allowed in this country; my private religious views may strike some as conservative. But on the issue of equality before thecivil law and freedom from state-inspired scapegoating, I am a liberal: the Church (or a church) is not the State, and the role of the State is to protect and respect all its citizens, irresoective of creed, colour or sexuality. Many states fall down on this point in all directions, but the UK should and can be working as part of the international community to prevent further sliding away from this simple universal principle by politicans for whatever motive.

  • Uganda’s population is 84% Christian, 12% Muslim — and there is equal anti-gay fervour in countries which have no Muslim community at all. Moreover, Islam is not indigenous to Africa either, and of recent years has been radicalised by Muslim missionary activity from non-African lands, such as Sa’udi Arabia.

  • The common denominator in all this? Religion, which has nothing to do with the existance or not of some kind of god or devine being. I have no more idea than anyone else whether or not such an entity exists. I believe not but I am sure that if one does exist he, she or it will be thoroughly hacked off with what some people do or cause to be done in his, her or its name.

  • Jonathan Brown 27th Feb '14 - 12:19am

    I suspect a more important common denominator than religion is power – and the abuse of power. Especially at a time of economic crisis.

    Without wishing to downplay the role of biggoted religious leaders playing to the crowd and populist politicians courting their support (whether or actual votes are important in whichever country we may be talking about), I think the common factor is a corrupt political leadership unable to reform a country’s economy to sufficiently provide for its people and unwilling to give up power.

    Gays seem to be an easy target at the moment, with nasty governments all over the world seeing them as an easy way to provoke Westerners, demonstrate their ‘values’ (whether they be traditional or modern, religious or cultural) and – perhaps most importantly – bring in or expand systems of repression that send a warning to would-be political opponents as much as to the named targets.

    I suspect Museveni couldn’t care less what gays get up to in private. But it sure doesn’t hurt him for anyone contemplating taking to the streets to demonstrate against his increasing authoritarianism to ponder the fact that a child can be given a life sentence for falling in love – and seemingly with the support of the people too.

  • Andrew Colman 27th Feb '14 - 5:10am

    Today Uganda is one of the more peaceful , forward thinking countries in Africa with low street crime and commitment to environmental protection and development. It is a very different place to what it was 35 years ago. However, this “anti gay” law suggests that there are dark forces around, and Uganda risks returning to its past.

  • Matt (Bristol) 27th Feb '14 - 9:37am

    @ Paul in Twickenham – yes, exactly.

    @ David-1: thankyou for that link, I stand better informed about the history fo laws on sexual practice in British colonies, but I think I can still make my main point, which is that it is being argued now in Africa that homosexuality is ‘un-african’ and ‘alien’ and therefore it may in the short-term be counterproductive, although desirable, for westerners to speak against laws like this as that is one of the things they are designed to provoke. An appeal to imagined tradition is just as powerful as one to actual tradition (and for most people anywhere, 100 years is a tradition).

    @ Jonathan Brown – I agree entirely. The issue is human lust for power and the creaiton of the appearance of certainty in disturbing times, so that we can define ourselves against ‘Them’. Although religion can be corrupt, irrational and repressive, the argument that religion is an inherently anti-liberal and irrational force is as flawed as to argue that democratic politics will inevitably lead to mob rule (a favourite concept of Queen Victoria’s, among others).

  • Matt (Bristol) 27th Feb '14 - 9:44am

    @ Robert: you haven’t actually answered or registered the existence of my carefully worded response to your casual smearing of the reputations of Christian MPs and leaders in this country, just repeated your own prejudice.

  • Paul in Twickenham 26th Feb ’14 – 2:10pm
    “How despicable can a politician be?”

    Paul, How long have you got?

    It is not just in Arizona or on the weirder fringes of right wing lunacy where politicians can be despicable. Even some politicians who describe themselves as being in “The Centre” can be despicable. Indeed some might say that a politician describing himself as being in “The Centre” is a despicable act in itself. Hiding your actual position by claiming a chummy in-between-ness with everyone else is a tawdry tactic if not thoroughly despicable.

  • Matt (Bristol) 27th Feb '14 - 12:40pm

    @ John Tilley – I often agree with your posts and suspect we would find ourselves instinctively in the same area of the political spectrum, but you do have a habit of making your arguments less attractive by overhyped rhetoric.

    You have serious points to make and I wish you would make them seriously, not snidely.

    I don’t think that point you just made is directly relevant to this discussion and therefore cheapens a serious discussion about a serious matter.

  • Andrew Colman 28th Feb '14 - 7:35pm

    Seems like American religious facists are behind this , seehttp://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/24/how-american-evangelicals-may-be-responsible-for-ugandas-anti-gay-law/

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