NAIROBI, Kenya — We'd thought it was all over: as Uganda's Parliament closed in May last year a proposed new law that might have seen homosexuals executed for being, well, gay was dropped from debate.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was brought to Parliament by David Bahati, a ruling party parliamentarian with evangelical Christian beliefs and lofty political ambitions. A political opportunist egged on by American pastors Bahati realized that a gay-bashing bill would be broadly popular amongst ordinary Ugandans, many of whom are deeply religious and deeply conservative.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda and homosexuals have long faced discrimination and led their lives in secret, but Bahati — and others — wanted the law stregthened.
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Bahati did not bargain for the international outcry that his bill provoked, an outcry that put pressure on President Yoweri Museveni (a pragmatic churchgoer rather than dyed-in-the-wool believer) and ultimately led to the bill being buried.
Bahati's move has, as might be expected, drawn a suitably aghast response from human rights groups and will no doubt trigger another concerted international effort to have it shelved.
The interesting new wrinkle since the bill was first introduced is that both the US and Britain have signalled a growing intolerance of intolerance suggesting that foreign aid might be linked to respect for gay (and other) rights.
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