Nearly four months after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed his country’s new anti-gay law into effect, and more than two months after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni followed suit with his signature on a similarly inspired repressive law in his country, the impact of both laws have played out volubly and violently across their landscapes, while responses to the laws remain in limbo.
There was little for gay Ugandans to be thankful for in Kampala when the the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda and local politicians organized a five-hour hate rally they called a “Thanksgiving Ceremony” to express their gratitude to Museveni for helping the country “take charge of its destiny,” as David Bahati, the Ugandan lawmaker who sponsored the Anti-Homosexuality law, put it. The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda lost some, but not all of its PEPFAR funding the week before, when the State Department announced plans to shift the funds to other organizations. While the U.S. Embassy Mission in Uganda released a statement assuring “No changes in U.S. Assistance to Uganda” Museveni, in turn, announced at the rally that he would start a new fund for AIDS treatment, in the event that donors tighten funds.
At the same time, while Bahati was giving credit to Museveni for asserting national sovereignty, Ugandan human rights activists gave at least some credit for the law to American homophobia evangelist Scott Lively, filing suit two weeks earlier in a Massachussets U.S. District court against the pastor and now politician for his role in inspiring the legislation. But Lively, it turned out, thought Ugandans weren’t doing it right. In a Huffington Post interview last week he distanced himself from the law, which includes life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality” and criminalizes support for gay people, by saying requiring gay individuals to undergo therapy to “cure” them from the “disorder” would be his solution. Except that anyone who didn’t go for that would then go to jail, he added.
In Nigeria two of the people rounded up in the outbreaks of police and mob violence following the launch of the country’s “Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act,” were acquitted. They were two of twelve men, according to this report, to be arrested in the wake of the law’s criminalization of organizations supporting or providing services to gay individuals, to be charged with “belonging to a gay club and having received funding from the United States for an apparent membership drive.” Four others, according to the report have been beaten with a horsewhip, while charges pend against the remaining five.
Among the supporters of Nigeria’s law, who praised President Jonathan for “outlawing the immoral culture,” was the leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria, which like the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, receives money for implementing PEPFAR programs.
In the meantime, according to this report Ugandan parliament members are asking for a raise, a request commentators are said to be criticizing, in part because of the yet unknown fallout from the law that the members voted into existence.