DESPITE Pope Ratzinger publicly blessing a mad woman who promised Ugandans a Christmas gift of a gay hate bill, and huge Catholic protests against a Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines, it looks today that the Ugandan bill has been kicked into the long grass, and that the RHB is set to become law.
Ratzinger’s blessing of the ghastly Rebecca Kadaga – which took place at a human rights conference at the Vatican – was widely interpreted as a gesture of support for her “Kill the Gays” bill, but we learn today that the Ugandan Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, appears to have distanced himself from the venomous Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
This, says human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, suggests the Government may not support the bill in its present form.
Said Tatchell in a statement issued this morning:
This may be the reason the bill has not been passed, as expected, in the run-up to Christmas.
PM Amama Mbabazi said:
It [homosexuality] is unlawful already … Why won’t we support it [the bill]? Because it’s already covered. But there are certain aspects which may be new, like promotion of homosexuality, things like that.
His words indicate that the government of Uganda may not support key sections of the bill but may agree to a crackdown on the promotion and advocacy of LGBT human rights. Caution and scepticism are advisable. This might be a government ploy to diffuse protests and lull LGBT Ugandans into a false sense of security.
There is likely to be a parliamentary majority in favour of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill if it comes to a vote. In this eventuality, the only hope is that President Yoweri Museveni will veto the bill.
Meanwhile Philippine legislators are today poised to pass landmark birth control laws paving the way for increased sex education and free contraceptives, despite lobbying by the Catholic Church.
The Philippine Senate is due to vote on the Reproductive Health Bill during its crucial second reading, while the House of Representatives will vote for the third and final time later today, said Congressman Edcel Lagman.
We are sure it will pass [in the Senate]. We expect the margin of victory to be wider in the House.
This flies in the face of angry condemnation of the bill from the RCC.
Bishops across the country have argued that laws allowing increased sex education and the handing out of contraception will encourage pre-marital sex and lead to the legalisation of abortion.
The bill will be signed into law by President Benigno Aquino if both houses of parliament agree on a common version.
Lagman shrugged off intense lobbying by the Catholic Church, including warnings that bishops would campaign against advocates of the bill in next year’s elections.
It’s more of a threat than a reality. The experience in other Catholic countries is once a law is passed on reproductive health, even the Catholic Church became silent and supports the law.
The bill is seen as a way of moderating the country’s population growth, reducing poverty and bringing down the high maternal mortality rate.
The key provision is the prioritisation of the poor and marginalised sectors who really need information and services of reproductive health.
Bishops campaigned against the proposals at the weekend, reading a pastoral letter to congregations across the country during Mass, saying:
The wide and free accessibility of contraceptives, even to the youth, will result in the destruction of family life and in greater violence against women.
Hat tip: Graham Martin-Royle and Barriejohn (Philippines report)