int'l pressure

The Only Way to Stop Uganda’s Kill The Gays Bill? Make the President Understand It Will Be a Foreign Policy Disaster

Promising the saga of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill continues in earnest through next month, Pastor Martin Ssempa, who’s been one of the bill’s most vocal backers, is planning something of a million man march to rally public support. (Uganda’s population: 31.6 million.) Backed by his lunatic organization Uganda National Pastors Task Force Against Homosexuality, Ssempa’s goal is to show lawmakers the people support further criminalizing homosexuality — a necessary tactic, given President Yoweri Museveni is reportedly “distancing” himself from the bill.

Museveni never officially endorsed the bill, but his support for attacking gays was made clear as recently as November. There was word that he promised to veto the bill, but even that fail-safe approach might not be enough if enough legislators approve the measure.

But now, as international criticism grows, Museveni is putting more space between his administration and David Bahati, the lawmaker who proposed the bill, saying Bahati was not, according to the BBC, “following government policy.” Except “distancing” and “rebuking” are two very different things, and the president has yet to do the latter. Instead, in his first public comments since the bill’s formal drafting in October, he told party leaders the bill “must take into account our foreign policy interests.” Namely, foreign aid, investment, and oil. Which makes pressure from world leaders — already initiated by Canada and the U.K. — all the more critical.