Friday, 21 February 2014

What are the Implications?

Well, it's been quite a week so far, since President Museveni agreed to sign the Anti-Gay Bill in Uganda, after it became apparent he was never going to say 'no'.

US President Obama has come under criticism for his disappointing response to the announcement, but how hard is it to decide what to do?

Especially when you have conflicting messages on how best to campaign.

On the one hand you're told to butt out of foreign affairs: How the west's attempts to stop the anti-gay bill could hurt Ugandan LGBTIs

The US, UK and other western countries need to be careful their efforts to tackle homophobia in Uganda don't do more harm than good.

On the other hand you're being told your measures aren't tough enough: Quiet diplomacy faulted for Africa's anti-gay laws

[I]nternational gay rights activists also blame donor countries, including the United States, which favor behind-the-scenes diplomacy intended to avoid a backlash that might come from more forceful engagement. 
"Quiet diplomacy up to the final moment clearly has failed," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Clearly you can't please everyone all of the time, and with no united voice from global campaigners saying 'look, this is what you should be doing, we all agree...' it's little wonder the world's super powers twiddle their thumbs and return to other pressing (and vote-winning) home issues.

There is also no unified approach to sanctions. One article this week has been discussing: Uganda's anti-gay bill: What will be the implications on donor aid? - How will the US and Europe react if Uganda really does make the bill law and what do LGBTI Ugandans want?

Perhaps that question can better be answered by looking at the effects Canadian, Irish, Swedish and UK aid cuts have already had on the country? 

Rather than throwing up suppositions over the future, look for the precedent.

Cutting off diplomatic ties is pretty final. Which brings us back to the question: does quiet diplomacy work?

Whilst Ugandan activists have long argued that tough measures enrage the homophobes and make things worse, Western activists say that international governments are not doing enough and should flex their muscles more.

It's a stalemate of campaigning methodology that seriously needs resolving before things can progress. 

Fighting for human rights takes a lot of energy, which is easily depleted when you fight amongst yourselves. It would seem that a unified approach would be rather helpful about now.

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