Monday, 24 March 2014

Fox Odoi Speaks Out

Thoroughly Decent Human Being: Fox Odoi

Shortly before Museveni signed the bill into law in February, West Budama North MP Fox Odoi pleaded with him not to. There have been only a handful of Ugandan politicians brave enough to raise their voices against the persecution of gay people, and his is one of the loudest. 

Former Vice President Dr. Wandira-Kazibwe is another, and together they are launching a campaign to challenge the constitutional legality of the bill.

Before it became legally mandatory to persecute gay people, Sexual Minorities Uganda were in the process of suing Simon Lokodo, laughingly called the Minister for Ethics and Integrity, for infringing on gay people's constituted human right to assembly. The case was predictably postponed again and again until the bill was passed into law and it became a criminal offence to admit to being gay. At which point the prosecution naturally dwindled.

Well, Fox Odoi and his free-thinking human rights defenders are putting forward a similar case: that the Bahati Bill is illegal because it is unconstitutional. In the following article, he outlines their case:

We argue, under the first ground of our petition, that Parliament was not legally constituted to deal with and pass this legislation. The problem is that if you do not have sufficient quorum, you do not have Parliament to deliberate on any matter. 
The rationale is if we have a very important issue that binds us as a country, it should as much as possible have all shades of opinion that represent the country. So, if you allow Parliament to pass a law without quorum, it will make it permissible for two people sitting to make a decision or law or constitutional amendment that will bind the whole country. 
I was not in Parliament that afternoon but I know for a fact that the Rt Hon Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi raised the question of quorum and I know that when the issue of quorum is raised, the presiding officer is supposed to call the register to ascertain by carrying out a head count. This was not done... 
We are also contending that by the law criminalising consensual same sex among adults, it contravenes equal protection before the law and is discriminatory and as such in violation of Article 21. What happens between two consenting adults should not be a concern to their neighbour.

These guys are our heroes. It cannot be underestimated how brave it is to stand up against this, whether you're risking your freedom as a political activist, or your career as a politician. These are hugely courageous men and women. Show them your support whenever and however you can.

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