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Uganda: Push for new Anti-Homosexuality Bill gets bizarre

Anti-gay politicians in Uganda are working both behind the scenes and bizarrely in public to lay the groundwork for bringing back Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

Gen. Elly Tumwine, Uganda’s security minister. (Photo courtesy of TheInsider.ug)

By Kikonyogo Kivumbi

In a bizarre twist amid a buildup to introducing (tabling) a new Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda’s parliament, the country’s security minister Gen. Elly Tumwine has smeared the LGBT movement by saying it is associated with a “hybrid … terrorist organization.”

Tumwine claims that supporters of LGBT rights are working with advocates of cryptocurrency and the Red Beret Movement, an opposition political group that seeks an end to the regime of longtime President Yoweri Museveni. Tumwine says that all those people are part of a conspiracy backed by a few individuals seeking to disrupt the world order.

He spun that elaborate conspiracy theory on Thursday (Oct. 3) in Kampala while appearing on a morning talk show at NBS Television.

Tumwine said this terror organization and its work had already infiltrated Uganda through LGBT people, cryptocurrency and people who put on red clothes.

This is a slightly edited, nearly verbatim version of what the minister said:

“As a security minister, I want to inform the public that there is a threat to the World called the Red Movement. There is a terrorist organization, one of the hybrid security or terrorist organizations of the world. There is a movement called the Red Movement managed by some few individuals in the world who want to create anarchy all over the world to break the stability of the order of things. They put on red, manufacture those red things, they supply them all over the world, to destabilise countries deliberately. It is associated with LGBT movement, cryptocurrency; of things which want to break the established order of things.”

Logo of People Power, Our Power

The Red Beret Movement supports pop musician Bobi Wine (Robert Sentamu Kyagulanyi), who became an opposition politician and was elected to parliament as the representative for Kyaddondo East near Kampala. He is the driving force behind the related political movement People Power, Our Power.

Many members of Uganda’s ruling elite are scared and angry about the prospect that the regime’s 33-year grip on power will come to an end in 2021 with a presidential election victory by Bobi Wine, who typically wears a red beret.

To counter his popularity, the government last month declared that it is illegal to wears red berets because they are part of a Ugandan military uniform. The threatened punishment for violators is life imprisonment. Six of Bobi Wine’s supporters were arrested last week for defying that ban.

Members of the Ugandan regime believe that the aggressive People Power, Our Power movement is funded by Americans and the European Union, especially the Dutch government.

In response to Tumwine’s comments that the supposed conspiracy involves LGBT rights activists, Frank Mugisha, the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, tweeted that the minister’s comments were part of a blame game that seeks to focus attention on LGBT Ugandans as bearing the responsibility for whatever problems Ugandan official face.

“LGBT Ugandans have suffered always at the center of every to blame,” he said in a tweet.

“So sad, what is happening to our lovely country?” another activist stated.

Politics, oil and anti-homosexuality

Uganda’s previous Anti-Homosexuality Bill was enacted in early 2014 but was annulled by Uganda’s constitutional court on technical grounds..

First known as the “Kill the Gays Bill” because its initial wording made same-sex intimacy a capital offense, the law roused strong opposition in the United States and Western Europe.

The threat of a new anti-gay bill is being seen as a method for gaining leverage for Uganda in bargaining with the U.S. and other Western countries over oil production agreements. Ugandan officials see LGBT people as a sensitive soft spot for the West.

Oil production site on Lake Albert in northwestern Uganda. (Photo courtesy of Tullow Oil)

At the same time, the ruling class in Uganda accuse America and the European Union of trying to sabotage its oil production by funding and fueling political dissent.

Uganda has proven crude oil reserves of 6.5 billion barrels, about 2.2 billion of which is recoverable. The International Monetary Fund was quoted in 2013 as saying that these reserves are the fourth-largest in sub-Saharan Africa, behind Nigeria, Angola, and South Sudan. But Uganda wants to give the extraction rights to Chinese and Iranians or Russians. (For example, see a press release from London-based Tullow Oil plc related to its negotiations with Uganda about a shared project with the France-based Total energy company and CHOOC (the China National Offshore Oil Corp.)

Many government officials and security agencies, as well as religious leaders, are speaking up strongly to make a case for reintroduction of an anti-gay bill.

To lay the groundwork for that move, Ugandan media on Oct. 3 carried special reports on the five-year anniversary of when the constitutional court annulled the anti-gay law in 2014.

Ethics and Integrity minister Simon Lokodo is quoted in local media saying the government is ready to table a new anti gay bill, after MP Nsaba Buturo took leave of parliament in August this year to write a new bill.

He has not yet made public his new bill. But observers believe a new and harsher anti gay bill will be tabled soon.

U.S. sanctions former police leader

Another cause for anger and contention in Uganda’s ruling National Resistance Movement is last month’s sanctioning by the United States of the former inspector general of police, Gen. Kale Kayihura, over human rights abuses.

Kayihura, a favorite of President Museveni, is believed to be an agent hiding the President’s money in western countries. Other senior government officials have also been denied visas to the United states and are believed to be on a sanctions list that will soon be issued.

Kikonyogo Kivumbi, the author of this article, is the executive director of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association.