LABC Update – Thursday, June 1, 2023
May 30, 2023
On Monday I received this very concerning email from Brian Byamukama. From asylum in Kenya, Brian leads the work of the Cherie Claire Orphanage in Mbale, Uganda which LABC supports with prayer, encouragement and financial contributions. The orphanage, connected to Bethany Baptist Church in Mbale, respects and welcomes all people regardless of the sexual orientation. The new law in Uganda will imperil the work they do. I do not have a ready answer in that international pressure did not prevent the legislation from passage. I do know that LABC support is a living sign of hope to this fragile ministry.
Hi Pr Jim,
I hope you’re ok. I’m writing this with a heavy heart and pain as my phone is receiving large volumes of calls and messages from colleagues in Uganda.
President Museveni’s signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 into law today is a deeply misguided attack on Uganda’s constitution and signifies total disregard for building an inclusive, economically prosperous democracy.
The new law duplicates and increases the penalty for consensual same sex adult sexual relations, which Uganda already has codified under a British-imported Colonial-era anti-sodomy law, and creates several new crimes. Ugandans or visitors to the country could face long prison sentences and hefty fines for implementing programs or voicing allyship.
The passing of this law means:
1. Anyone convicted of participating in same-sex acts between adults will face life in prison;
2. Anyone “promoting homosexuality” will face 20 years in prison;
3. Those who allow their premises to be used for “acts of homosexuality” face 7 years;
4. Those who “fail to report acts of homosexuality” could face 5 years;
5. And those charged with “aggravated homosexuality” face the death penalty.
Our own welcoming and affirming ministry BETHANY BAPTIST CHURCH and all activities done through our organization RURAL MOVEMENT INITIATIVE (RUMI) is at jeopardy and members are already potential prisoners and this might not spare an attack on the Cherri Claire Orphanage since there have been allegations of us promoting homosexuality among children of the orphanage. This has given ground to our haters to attack our ministry, organization and orphanage at anytime.
The law permits the death penalty for the new crime of “aggravated homosexuality,” a clause that perpetuates stigma of people living with HIV by defining consensual sex with a person with HIV as “aggravated homosexuality.” Such provisions drive people underground, discouraging most at risk populations from seeking testing and treatment and it will devastate the fight against HIV.
“Museveni’s assent to this disastrous law shows his reckless disregard for the lives and health of Ugandans. The mere proposal of this law has already led to targeted witch hunts of LGBTIQ people in Uganda, physical and online attacks, unlawful evictions, despicable and false claims of “recruitment of children” have led to increased vigilantism, arbitrary arrests and other gross violations of human rights. Emergency support to my LGBTQ counterparts to provide, food, medication, and relocation costs is now more critical than ever.
The retrogressive and unconstitutional law is clearly designed to distract ordinary Ugandans from the fact that day to day, Parliamentarians offer no solution to the many crises they face attempting to
support their families and loved ones. This includes pressing concerns such as rising commodity prices, significant unemployment, failing education and healthcare systems and other catastrophic effects of grinding and unrelenting poverty. Instead of addressing those pressing governance challenges, parliament and the President are choosing dangerous diversionary tactics to inflame hatred and sow division.
Countries providing aid to Uganda will need to urgently review their assistance and likely restructure their programming. I believe this is a key time for stakeholders, such as the US, Canada and the EU, to move forward with sanctions against Ugandans implicated in human rights abuses and high-level corruption.
When a similar bill was passed into law in Uganda in 2014, the then World Bank President Jim Yong Kim stated that discrimination is bad for economies, as well as for societies and individuals. He further stated that discrimination can prevent people from fully participating in the workforce and discourage multinational companies from investing or locating their activities in countries with discriminatory laws. Uganda will now be an unfortunate case study of that reality.
There can be no doubt that the President’s action today will have a harmful effect on various sectors.
After the 2014 bill became law, several donors cut and restructured their funding to Uganda.
The President has today legalized state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia by signing this bill into law. It will erode the inherent rights of LGBTIQ individuals and put innocent Ugandans at cross hairs of grave violations from State and non-state actors.
I can sense danger and more physical attacks frequently.
It’s really a devasting economy to live in. I have no idea how we can help LGBTQ flocks under our care in Uganda who are already hiding.
Pastor Carolyn will lead Together In Spirit tonight at 6:00.
LABC Zoom Link
Dial-in: 1 669 900 9128
Meeting ID: 859 909 5914
One tap mobile: +16699009128