The National: Uganda’s Bhati Still Wants to Kill Gays; Why Did Obama Wait To Speak Out? / Banton in Jailby James Sanna December 14, 2009
A big part of me was disappointed when Bloomberg reported that Ugandan MP David Bahati, the man behind the notorious “kill gays” bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament, had agreed to remove death and life imprisonment from the list of punishments for various offenses related to “aggravated homosexuality” (gay sex). It’s good to know I can go back to writing inflammatory headlines: Bahati told the UK’s Guardian newspaper this weekend that he won’t back down to international pressure and condemnation. It’s also good to know that the bill still proposes to grievously violate the human rights and dignity of LGBT Ugandans, making it easy to oppose and easy to shame American political and religious leaders – some of whom have strong ties to Bahati – into vocally stating their opposition to the bill. In this vein, pressure from our southern neighbors in Iowa has flushed out Senator Chuck “I’m too busy to care” Grassley (R-IA) to condemn the bill, despite his strong ties to the secretive evangelical organization called “The Family”, of which Bahati is also a member. Likewise, the White House only explicitly declared its opposition to the bill after prodding from The Advocate’s Kerry Eleved.
The bill is expected to be debated within the next few weeks, says the Guardian, and is still likely to be passed into law.
But why did President Obama wait so long, even while countries like Sweden were threatening to pull their foreign aid donations from Uganda? A few weeks ago, Reuters reported that the influence of foreign aid donors is “waning as the country moves join the league of oil producers.” To preserve his political capital in Uganda, Obama was probably waiting until the chorus of conservative voices gave him political cover. That list of voices is growing by the day – Grassley, Rick Warren, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), the heads of the Catholic and Anglican churches, and even a senior advisor to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. As Bahati digs in his heels, though, this fight may be far from over.
D.C. – Some of the LGBT (elected) political royalty are trashing the current crop of US Senators as a barrier to equality. Blame the 60 votes needed to override a filibuster, say queer Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jared Polis (D-CO), and maybe blame Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for not being able to whip his senators into line. (EDGE)
Florida – Buju Banton, infamous the Jamaican reggae star who could be cutely described as both “homo-cidal” and “Grammy-nominated” won’t be going on tour any time soon. He’s in the clink on charges of trying to smuggle 5 kilograms of cocaine into the country (worth between $50,000 – $100,000), and is being charged with intending to sell it. (Miami Herald)
TexasHouston elected its first queer mayor over the weekend, but while she’s happy to call herself part of the Houston LGBT community in this CNN interview, she’s not looking to use her new post as a bully pulpit. (Towleroad)