08/31/2010 by JR Russell
Sharlet has written an article about his visit for Harper’s Magazine (you’ll have to be a subscriber or find a hard copy to read it) and has done an interview with NPR. In the interview, he talks about the opportunity he had to meet with David Bahati, and even visit him in his home.
He warns that — while the bill is currently on the back-burner as a result of international pressure — it is still there and is still an actual threat, as is the violence and rhetoric that has been inspired by the bill and the discourse around it.
And essentially what it is right now is sort of a tiger on the leash. It’s something that the dictator can – if he feels he’s threatened and he needs to rally public support and distract them – he can get this thing passed in probably about four weeks. So it remains incredibly dangerous.
And what he wanted to do was kill every last gay person. And this came up because he said, well, the death penalty may come out of it but, you know, democracy will bring it back…
Towards the end of this genial visit, Bahati threatened to arrest Professor Sharlet if he came back to Uganda, on the grounds of promoting homosexuality.
And he said, yeah, of course I’ll have you arrested. And, you know, he sort of made that clear to the Ugandan journalist I was with, too.
The only thing holding [the Anti-Homosexuality Bill] back, right now, is Museveni, who is afraid of losing support from Western donors. If there was a vote on it tomorrow, it would pass almost unanimously. To vote against it would be political suicide in Uganda.
But that said, Museveni is holding it back. He’s trying to kind of play both sides. On the one hand, says we got to go slow on this; may be this isn’t the right way. And then he’ll go and give a public talk about the gay menace. His wife, who is also very powerful, the first lady, has also talked about sort of purging Uganda.