Annulling Uganda's Anti-Gay Law: General Museveni Plays 'Political Condom' With Lives Of LGBT
President Obama called it "odious" when law was being debated and included death penalty for LGBT community
Today's announcement by Uganda's Constitutional Court that it had annulled the Anti-Gay law signed by Gen. Yoweri Museveni in February comes as no surprise to The Black Star News.
The court said Parliament in Uganda had passed the law without proper quorum.
This is what we wrote in a Black Star commentary on June 22 this year: "Officials close to the Ugandan regime believe that as U.S. sanctions escalate the government will quickly scrap its anti-Gay law by allowing a court there to rule that it's unconstitutional. The Uganda courts are packed with judges handpicked by the country's long-time ruler of 28 years and many rulings are pre-determined. A case was filed in the Constitutional Court challenging the law soon after it was signed and some analysts believe [that] it had a wink of approval from Gen. Museveni, the cunning Ugandan ruler."
Ever the master-manipulator, Gen. Museveni has been playing with the lives of Uganda's LGBT community especially since 2009 when he realized that demonizing them could win him votes.
On that occasion he also faced elections two years down the line; in 2011. So he unleashed a witchhunt through his acolytes including Member of Parliament David Bahati.
A tabloid called Rolling Stone published pictures of people suspected of being Gay under the headline "Hang Them." It's believed this was the kind of environment, state-sanctioned Gay hatred, that led to increased assaults against the LGBT community and the murder of leading activist David Kato on Jan. 26, 2011.
Museveni faces another election in 2016 against an even more determined political opposition. So Round Two of "demonize the Gays" was launched, culminating in the law he signed Feb. 24.
Next year, if not earlier, to appease his supporters, heading into the final months before the 2016 vote, he can always have Bahati and others revive the Anti-Homosexuality Act debate in Parliament -- with a quorum.
Why do we say this "annulment" was manufactured?
Every Ugandan knows that there is not a major court ruling that goes against Museveni without consequences unless he actually approves of the decision. Gen. Museveni is above the law and the country's constitution.
After the 2006 election, which many believed was won by the main opposition candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye, who was once Gen. Museveni's personal doctor, the challenger petitioned the Supreme Court to annul the vote. The court found widespread intimidation, violence, voter disenfranchisement, and other irregularities.When Gen. Museveni found out that the judges of the Supreme Court had voted 4-3 to annul the election results he called the justices and threatened them by saying that he would advise the army to seize power, knowing he would be the powerbroker in the background.
When the court's decision was announced to the public, the vote had become 4-3 in favor of upholding the results.
Gen. Museveni would not allow the anti-Gay vote to be annulled by the constitutional court if that wasn't the outcome he wanted. So the annulment announced today by Uganda's Constitutional Court was likely pre-approved by the dictator.
The ruling, not by coincidence, makes it diplomatically palatable for Gen. Museveni to join the other African presidents who will be hosted, including at The White House, by President Obama during next week's U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
The lawsuit was filed precisely for a day such as today.
It would have been extremely awkward for Gen. Museveni to be hosted by President Obama considering his ugly rants against Uganda's LGBT community and Gays in general during a press conference after he signed the law on Feb. 24. (He has a long history of hateful bigotry and has yet to apologize for his perverted comments about slavery and praise for Hitler).
Also complicating his visit, absent the annulment of the anti-Gay law is the fact that in June, The White House had also announced sanctions, including visa restrictions on Uganda officials involved in corruption and the anti-Gay law.
Presumably, annulling the law would allow Museveni, who signed it, to be removed from the list -- even though corruption would still qualify him to be denied visa.
And politically, Gen. Museveni can afford to have the law "annulled" anyway.
He can maintain to the conservative voters' whose support he has been courting by demonizing Gays --and causing some of them to lose their lives through murder or suicides-- that he's still an opponent of homosexuals but that he's been "betrayed" by the court.
And he can now visit the U.S. and even claim that he's not a dictator since Uganda's courts can defy him and vote against a law that he supports.
In other words, Gen. Museveni gets to have his cake and eat it too.
He knew all along that the court would annul the law. During the Feb. 24 press conference, a reporter even asked him about the fact that Uganda's Parliament didn't have a quorum when it "passed" the legislation.
Additionally, as The Black Star News previously reported, Gen. Museveni even told former President Bill Clinton that even though he had signed the law, he never intended to have it implemented.
In the meantime, as The Guardian reported, attacks against Uganda's LGBT community increased to 162 between December 2013 when the law was "enacted" and May 2014. The attacks totaled only eight for almost all of 2013 The Guardian also reported.
In Uganda, a new term is becoming popular -- "political condoms." That's precisely how Gen. Museveni views and treats the LGBT community. He doesn't care about the violence he has unleashed against them, with or without the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
That kind of hatred cannot be pushed back in the bottle.
So while cheering the manufactured annulment of the Anti-Gay law; beware of the wily dictator's next move.
He has not remained in power 28 years by violence and election rigging alone.
Gen. Museveni fully believes that he can fool all of the people all of the time.
Note: A petition was launched asking President Obama to dis-invite Gen. Museveni from the U.S.-Africa Summit. An earlier petition opposed Museveni's foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa becoming President of the United Nations General Assembly