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LOS PAPELES DEL DEPARTAMENTO DE ESTADO

Cable sobre la homofobia en Uganda

ID: 240879
Date: 2009-12-21 08:34:00
Origin: 09KAMPALA1409
Source: Embassy Kampala
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno: 09KAMPALA1381 09KAMPALA1396
Destination: VZCZCXRO1579
RR RUEHRN RUEHROV
DE RUEHKM #1409/01 3550834
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 210834Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0031
INFO IGAD COLLECTIVE
RWANDA COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KAMPALA 001409

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/21
TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, KDEM, UG
SUBJECT: UGANDA: INTERNAL OPPOSITION TO ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL
EMERGES, BUT IS STILL LIMITED

REF: KAMPALA 1396; KAMPALA 1381

CLASSIFIED BY: Aaron Sampson, Pol/Econ Chief, State, Pol/Econ;
REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary: Three domestic opponents of Uganda's
anti-homosexuality bill received significant local press coverage
during the December 12-13 weekend. The government-owned newspaper
published a column against the bill by senior presidential advisor
John Nagenda. Nagenda had earlier told PolOff he felt morally
obligated to speak out against the legislation, which he compared
to McCarthyism. Uganda's opposition newspaper published, under an
anonymous byline, a remarkably well-written in-depth interview with
an openly gay Ugandan woman living in Kampala. Parliamentary
opposition leader Morris Latigo also spoke out against the bill.
Meanwhile, members of Uganda's gay and lesbian community are
increasingly concerned for their security. End Summary.



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

One Advisor Against Many

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2. (C) The New Vision published a column by senior presidential
advisor John Nagenda against the draft anti-homosexuality
legislation on December 12. Nagenda is known for challenging
prevailing political winds, and has previously advised President
Museveni against running for re-election in 2011. His column
compared the bill to McCarthyism and the Inquisition, and urged
Parliament to vote against it. In a separate discussion with
PolOff, Nagenda said the New Vision - which is edited by a Dutch
national - initially refused to run his column, and agreed only
after Nagenda threatened to never again write for the newspaper.
Nagenda said he felt morally obligated to speak out against the
legislation, and accused those behind it of obfuscating differences
between homosexuality, rape, incest, and pedophilia.



3. (C) Nagenda said President Museveni is "quite intemperate" when
it comes to homosexuality, but that the President will likely
recognize the dangers of passing the anti-homosexuality
legislation. He said First Lady Janet Museveni, who he described
as a "very extreme woman", is ultimately behind the bill. He added
that the bill's most vociferous public supporter, Ethics and
Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo, is a "very bad guy" responsible
for a campaign of mass arrests - known by the Swahili term 'panda
gari' - during the early 1980s under the Obote II regime while
serving as Kampala's District Commissioner. Nagenda said Buturo is
using the anti-homosexuality legislation to redefine himself and
"will do anything in his power to be a populist." He advised the
U.S. and other donors to refrain from publicly condemning the bill
as this fuels the anti-homosexual and anti-western rhetoric of the
bill's proponents.



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Human Rights Lawyer Prepares for Parliamentary Hearings


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4. (C) On December 9, human rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi told
PolOff that the Parliamentary Committee responsible for reviewing
the legislation will likely not initiate hearings on the bill until
March 2010 at the earliest (ref. A), and expressed hope that the
bill could linger in committee for a year or more. Rwakafuzi is the
only human rights lawyer working to defend Ugandan homosexuals
against charges under pre-existing anti-homosexuality laws. He
said he has already submitted on behalf of Uganda's gay and lesbian
community a list of health care providers, human rights experts,
and others prepared to testify before Parliament once public
hearings commence. He said he will also urging Parliament to
consider actual statistics regarding homosexuality and child abuse,
as he knows that those pushing the legislation cannot produce any
credible data to support their arguments.

KAMPALA 00001409 002 OF 002


5. (C) Rwakafuzi questioned whether the legislation's proponents
would accept substantive changes to the bill, as this would signify
a major political defeat. He urged the international community to
publicly oppose the bill, citing its negative impact on human
rights and the prevention of HIV/AIDS. But he said threatening to
cut assistance if the bill is passed - as Sweden did recently (ref.
B) - is counter productive and emboldens those pushing the
legislation. Like Nagenda, Rwakafuzi noted Buturo's reputation for
human rights violations while serving as Kampala's District
Commissioner under the Obote II regime in the early 1980s.



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

Opposition Opposes Anti-Homosexuality Bill

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



6. (C) In a December interview with the Independent magazine, the
official leader of the Parliamentary opposition, Morris Latigo,
ridiculed provisions allowing for the death penalty as "absolutely
outrageous." In Parliament in April, Latigo publicly supported
Bahati's motion to introduce the legislation and urged fellow
parliamentarians "to ensure that this motion comes as a Bill and as
law as quickly as possible ." Forum for Democratic Change (FDC)
spokesman Wafula Oguttu told PolOff on December 17 that Latigo's
prior comments were articulated before the FDC took a position on
the bill, and that the FDC now opposes passing the current
legislation. In the Independent interview, Latigo warned that the
bill will render Ugandan politics vulnerable to "mischief", lacks
clear objectives, and is not based on solid facts. Latigo said he
looks forward to appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs Committee to testify against the legislation.



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Gay and Lesbian Community Security Concerns

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



7. (C) Human Rights Watch's (HRW) resident researcher told PolOff
on December 14 that members of Uganda's gay and lesbian community
are increasingly concerned for their own safety. HRW is working
with an underground coalition of local gay, lesbian, and
transgender activists to coordinate a response to the
anti-homosexuality legislation. Fearing police surveillance and
electronic eavesdropping, the coalition is unnamed and uses
shifting code words to organize underground meetings. HRW said the
majority of each meeting is dedicated to questions of personal
security for coalition members.



8. (C) Local gay and lesbian activists pleaded with one member,
Val Kalende, to reconsider a feature interview with the opposition
newspaper the Daily Monitor. The Monitor ran the interview as the
front page story, along with several photographs of Kalende, on
December 12. Published under an anonymous byline, the article
provides a striking and remarkably well-written portrait of
Kalende's struggle against rising discrimination and hatred. After
describing her initial reaction to Bahati's anti-homosexuality
bill, Kalende said: "for the first time, I am very scared."
Bahati's bill, said Kalende, "is not about homosexuality. It
effects everyone; my pastor, my friends. It is not about us gays.
Homosexuality is not about sodomizing young boys. What about
relationships among people who are not hurting anyone?" The
Monitor interview included a sidebar that dispassionately provided
the facts about human homosexuality - its history and universality
- and thus implicitly debunked many of the most absurd claims made
by the bill's proponents.
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