By Ian Katusiime and Joan Akello
Main mover, Ndorwa West MP David Bahati spoke to The Independent’s Ian Katusiime and Joan Akello about how threats by donors to cut aid should give Uganda opportunity to re-evaluate its opportunities
Why do you say the new Anti-homosexuality law is a victory for Uganda?
It’s a victory for the family and a triumph of sovereignty of a nation because one of the reasons it was signed was to stop promotion of homosexuality in our country and to protect our children from being recruited by homosexuals. It was a democratic process that received bipartisan support in our sovereign parliament, so for people from other nations to come and dictate how we should be behaving and living in our country is disrespectful. I think that by signing this law Uganda has achieved victory.
You are a people’s representative in the parliament. Aren’t you supposed to be fighting for human rights instead of passing draconian laws?
Human Rights are always taken in context of societies’ values. The summation of society’s values is what forms human rights. In our society for a man to sleep with a man is not a human right. Individuals within a given society conform to its values. You cannot just remove your clothes and walk naked, simply because it’s your body. Our set values are clear, homosexuality is not a human right in Uganda. It is not a common value under the UN, nor is it in the Commonwealth. In fact in the US it is a divided issue; the other day in Arizona people were still debating a similar law.
The Anti-gay law proposes lifetime imprisonment for offenders once convicted. How will lifetime imprisonment fight homosexual behaviour since they are imprisoned with fellow male inmates?
I am happy that you are saying it is behavioural because people have been debating whether it is in born or not. Our scientists proved beyond reasonable doubt that it’s not inborn, it is not genetically linked, it is nurtured; it can be learned and unlearned. This law is to prevent something from happening, if the prevention is not achieved then it will punish. The most important purpose of this law is to stop the promotion and inducement of our children into our homosexuality. We are protecting family values.
Would you report your brother or cousin or any other close relative to the police if you found out they were gay?
We don’t consider it in the law. Whether you are my relative or my neighbour, if you are involved in something wrong, you must face the law.
Homosexuality is said to be rampant in single sex schools in Uganda and yet you say it is a Western-oriented behaviour. How do you explain it cropping up in single sex schools?
People in western countries have been exploiting the situation; using money to infiltrate schools. They take advantage of the economic situation of people who don’t have money to advance the gay agenda.
You also have been said to receive funding from American evangelical groups to promote the anti-gay law in Uganda. Is this true?
That is an insult by western social imperialists who think that anything good in Africa must be started by people from the west. We are not about to trade our values for anything.
You have been the face of this Bill ever since you first tabled it in Parliament in 2009. How has all this changed your life?
I tend to agree with the person who said that the only necessary thing for evil to triumph is for good men to keep quiet. I have experienced what I had even never thought of. Parents have come to me complaining how their children have been abused. I have seen middle aged people wear pampers after their rectums have been ruptured. I have seen what evil can do to society. It has toughened my resolve to pursue causes not only those that affect me as an individual but the entire society. I have been denied visas. I have realised the hypocrisy of these Western democracies. How does a democratic country tell another to stop a debate in its parliament? Do we interfere with them when they are passing their laws? We have passed legislation and they should respect it. I have realised we can never attain real independence unless we develop economically.
Legal experts have argued that the law is difficult to implement. Will the police, for example, make random raids on homes to establish the nature of some people’s sexuality? How will they arrest the culprits?
The law is easy to implement. If you read the 15 clauses, it is very clear. If you are a church or mosque don’t wed a gay couple. If you do, the celebrants will be punished. If you are an NGO and you are involved in promotion, you will be told to stop. It is straight forward. After the law has been gazetted, the responsible minister will come up with regulations on how it will be implemented by different stakeholders. This will include setting up infrastructure to help the victims especially children who have been lured into the act. So this idea that the law is complicated is false.
Homosexuality was already outlawed by The Penal Code Act. Why then introduce another law?
This law is meant to strengthen existing laws. The Penal Code Act was after sexual acts against the order of nature. In this law we made it clear we are talking about homosexuality. We widened the scope to include inducement, promotion and funding of homosexuality. This law emboldens the constitutional prohibition of same sex relationships by providing for punishment for those who celebrate same sex marriages in churches. There is no contradiction, only an improvement of existing laws. The same has been done to all existing criminal laws such as the anti corruption laws, the Public Order Management Act.
What do you think about gay people, what comes to mind when you see a gay person?
We wish they could turn from their evil ways, get rehabilitated and come back to normal. We love them but hate what they are doing. Their behaviour is a danger to our children and they are also destroying their lives. The prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS among homosexuals is alarming and in fact studies have shown that the disease is more prevalent in homosexuals more than in heterosexuals in America. Similar studies have also shown that being gay reduces one’s life span.
What is a rough estimate of the statistics of gay people in Uganda since they are allegedly recruiting people into the behaviour?
They are those who say it is a small portion of people but whether you are one million or two as long as you pose a threat to our society we shall fight you. Obviously, you cannot have statistics because homosexuality is illegal. But what I am sure of is that they are mercenaries who join the act for money like the President said.
This law has pitted Uganda against the international community and also resulted in aid cuts. Is Uganda ready for these wars, what’s your take on all this?
These threats by the international community about foreign aid should give Uganda an opportunity to re-evaluate its opportunities. Ugandans must stand firm, it is also an opportunity to use its available resources. We have enough mineral potential for example the cement in Karamoja can take Uganda for up to 400 years, we have oil in this country. The international community also needs us in the fight against terrorism, corruption and the advance of freedom and democracy. Otherwise countries like China, Russia and Japan have pledged their support. What’s important is protecting our values here.