Uganda still won’t hang the gays, but it’s about to drill for billions of barrels of oil


by Ann Garrison

KPFA Evening News, broadcast Dec. 29, 2012

KPFA Evening News Anchor Cameron Jones: Uganda’s Parliament failed to pass the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as the Hang-the-Gays Bill, in December. However, Uganda’s Parliament did pass the Petroleum Exploration, Development and Production Bill, regarding the exploitation of vast oil reserves in Lake Albert, on Uganda’s western border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Ugandan activist Jackie Asiimwe-Mwesige about both bills.

Ugandan activist Jackie Assiimwe-MwesigeKPFA/Ann Garrison: Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as the Hang-the-Gays Bill, was first introduced in 2009. Jackie Asiimwe-Mwesige said that Uganda’s speaker of Parliament had tried to pass it as a “Christmas gift to Ugandans” because she returned to a hero’s welcome after standing up to an unprovoked attack about gay rights by the Canadian Foreign Minister at an interparliamentary meeting in Canada.

Jackie Asiimwe-Mwesige: Well, it came up this time as a result of our speaker, the Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, attending a meeting in Canada, and the Canadian Foreign Minister said something about homosexuality and she stood up to say that the meeting was about something totally different. She wondered how a foreign minister was then in a meeting lecturing Uganda about the homosexuality bill and she said, you know, she was standing up for the sovereignty of Uganda, for the rights of Ugandans, to sort out their own legislative issues, their own morality issues, and that the West didn’t have a right to lecture them on homosexuality.

Ugandan activists meet Makerere University, Kampala 121612So that’s where it came from. And so when she came back – and of course you know that the media in Uganda reported that exchange in Canada – and when she came back, she came back to a hero’s welcome. And I think that’s the whole difficulty, the fact that the limelight has been on that issue, and yet I think Ugandans feel it’s not the most pressing issue, that in fact maybe Western countries could have stood with us on the various other challenges that we have and been more bold, to raise issues around our democratic deficit, rather than just mostly focusing on the Anti-Gay Bill.

KPFA: The oil bill, one of three under consideration, was, she said, long overdue.

Jackie Asiimwe-Mwesige: The oil bill is on the table now – in fact should have been on the table long ago. In November of 2011, the Parliament had a heated debate on oil. At the time there was a struggle between the Parliament and the executive, the government, around government secrecy, around who it was entering the deal with on behalf of Uganda on the oil. And they said, as members of Parliament, as representatives of Ugandans, they had the right to know what contracts, what deals our government was entering.

Ugandan fishermen Lake Albert by Xan RiceAnd so it was a call to order for our government to say, “Look, you should tell us; be open about who you’re entering deals with. But also, can we have the right legal, legislative framework to manage the oil resource? And one of their demands to government was that government prepare and present to Parliament oil bills for debate and passing, oil bills which would help to set the framework for managing the resource, for taking care of environmental issues, for setting up the appropriate structures to manage the oil resource.

And government dilly dallied, ‘cause this was over a year ago, dilly dallied but finally brought the bill to Parliament late in July.

KPFA: Asiimwe-Mwesige said, however, that the corruption of President Yoweri Museveni’s NRM government is now the biggest problem in Uganda, so she’s not optimistic that Uganda’s oil wealth will improve the living standard of Ugandans without a widespread people’s movement, which has not yet come to fruition. She and fellow Ugandan activists have begun to appear outside Parliament wearing T-shirts saying, “DON’T STEAL OUR OIL TOO.”

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at If you want to see Ann Garrison’s independent reporting continue, please contribute on her website at



  1. I don't think Jackie Asiimwe-Mwesige is wise to brush off Ugandan efforts to execute people for being gay so easily. I get a sense she has difficulty accepting criticism, even appropriate criticism from a 'western' source. Sage advice can come from any source. You have to be able to listen though.

  2. The bit about the West not being able to lecture on homosexuality appears to fall squarely in a set we can safely label 'brush off.' She certainly did describe brushing off the Canadian's concerns about a death potential death penalty law for homosexuals. It looks like you were able to see her describing something, but not the content of the description.

  3. Has anyone ever stopped and wondered whether or not the 'kill the gays bill' is in contravention of Article 21 of the Ugandan Constitution? I think even the drafters of the bill know that it is unconstitutional.

    I quote:

    21. Equality and freedom from discrimination.

    (1) All persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life and in every other respect and shall enjoy equal protection of the law.

    (2) Without prejudice to clause (1) of this article, a person shall not be discriminated against on the ground of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability.

  4. Have you guys had a chance to read that so called bill? Its not advocating for hunging anyone who is gay, it only attributes hunging or, the death penalty against people found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” – defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a “serial offender”.

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