For those who have kept up to date with the
international climate regarding gays and lesbians, the extreme homophobia of Uganda is well known and long standing. What is not well known is that the one of the most recent horrific actions taken by the Ugandan Parliament was the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 by David Bahati,
MP, who happens to be the Chairman of the Ugandan Scout Association.
The bill introduced by Bahati calls for the death penalty in the cases of "aggravated homosexuality" and life imprisonment in the cases of the "offence of homosexuality." While some have compared this legislation with the Nazi regime, the Nuremberg laws did not come out and proclaim that the state's purpose was genocide. This bill goes further than the Nazis ever thought and attempts
through democratic means to legislate the genocide of an entire group of people, men, women, and children.
It is not surprising to learn that the impetus for this inhumane piece of legislation are many of the same Christian leaders in the United States which support the BSA's anti-gay policies.
Stonewall (a gay rights organization in the UK) denounced not only the bill, but alerted the world of the Scouting connection with this genocidal legislation. The organization pressured the UK Scout Association (UKSA) to demand the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) to take action against the Ugandan
Scout Association to disaffiliate itself with Bahati and his genocidal legislation. The UKSA did send a letter to the WOSM which stated:
Since the mid-1990s, The Scout Association has been clear and unequivocal in our equal opportunities policy and practice especially regarding sexual orientation, as befitting our role in contemporary society.
We are recently aware that the Ugandan Parliament has received a Bill
that calls for the death sentence for repeat practicing of homosexuality. This Bill is presented by a Ugandan MP (David Bahati) who is also currently the National Chairman of the Uganda Scout Association. In terms of our own policies and understandings, we find the Bill not only discriminatory and contrary to the sanctity of life, but also completely incompatible with our interpretation of the values of our worldwide Scouting Movement.
We have already drawn our grave concerns on this to the attention of the Secretary General of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM), and we are subsequently aware that the issues are now subject both to WOSM's direct engagement with the Chief Scout of Uganda (Mrs Maggie Kigozi) and to ongoing global consideration by members of the World Scout Committee.
We hope that the bilateral and very positive educational and solidarity
projects that have been fostered for many years between Scout Groups in the UK and Scout Groups in Uganda on such matters as health and community development will not be prejudiced or compromised by this situation; we await the formal and public response from the Scout Association of Uganda and from WOSM, whereupon we will review our position.
To date, the WOSM has yet to publicly comment on the affiliation of the Scouting Movement with this attempt to legislate genocide. Of course, it goes without saying that the Boy Scouts of America has not said a single word in opposition to this bill.
Notwithstanding the deafening silence from the Scouting community (with the exception of the UKSA), the
international community roundly deplored the bill which had the effect of Bahati tabling the bill, not withdrawing it. But the introduction of such a horrendous piece of legislation by a national Scout leader and its acceptance by many within and without the country of Uganda is indicative of the animus many hold against gays and lesbians. LGBT groups in Uganda recently issued a press release, which
stated in part:
"It has promoted hate-speech in churches, schools and the media. It has led to defamation, blackmail, evictions, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, physical assault, emotional and mental assault of LGBT activists, our families and allies.
The bill has further led to increased violence incited by local media, particularly The Red Pepper tabloid and recently launched Rolling Stone newspaper. The headline of the Rolling Stone viciously
screamed "100 pictures of Ugandan's top homos leak- Hang them" in their Vol. 1 No. 05 October 02-09, 2010. They published pictures, names, residences and other details of LGBT activists and allies."
When people ask what harm could discriminating against gays and lesbians --much less teaching young children that such discrimination is morally right-
-possibly cause, all one needs to do is to point to Uganda. In that country it is unfortunately Scouting which has taken the leadership role in preparing the way to subjecting gays and lesbians to another Holocaust. While it would be unfair to compare the BSA with Nazi Germany or even Uganda, the current BSA's anti-gay policies only embolden and give comfort to those in the USA which would like nothing better than to overturn the Lawrence decision and impose the death penalty
for gays and lesbians. A firm declaration in favor of human rights for all people, regardless of race, religious belief, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities, etc., would do much to help the BSA live up to the Scouting Principles found in the Scout Oath and Law, as well as a concrete example that "Character Counts" when it comes to standing up and doing the right thing!