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Friday, January 29, 2010
CNS Whitewashes Anti-Gay Uganda Law

A Jan. 28 article by Karen Schuberg whitewashes the proposed anti-gay law in Uganda, strangely fixating on a provision that would permit the death penalty for "any HIV-positive person who willfully and knowingly engages in homosexual relations." Schuberg suggests that this is the only controversial provision in the law that is generating criticism of it, and asks Democratic members of Congress critical of the law what penalty they would apply to someone for "knowingly putting others at risk."

But as the summary of the law Schuberg links to from Warren Throckmorton --  as well an AP article CNS published last month -- make clear, the bill has many other controversial provisions, such as imprisoning those who fail to report homosexual behavior to authorities and penalizing landlords who rent to gays. We've previously noted other harsh provisions that Schuberg doesn't mention.

Also unmentioned by Schuberg: the facts that the number of gays in Uganda are "negligible," and by far the most prevalent method of HIV transmission in Uganda has historically been either heterosexual or mother-to-child.

Throckmorton, by the way, has been critical of the bill's Draconian provisions, and he takes CNS to task for not only Schuberg's HIV-transmission fixation but also the slant of her questions to Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin:

Rep. Baldwin makes clear that the actionable offense is intent to harm. However, the CNSNews reporter does not seem to get the crucial distinction – a distinction not made in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In the bill, there is no language that requires the offender to have harmful intent. The clear intent of the bill, as was recently confirmed to me by a researcher in the Ugandan Parliament Research Service is “to outlaw all same-sex sexual conduct.” Being HIV-positive gets the strongest penalty. In the bill, intent to harm is not relevant. The CNSNews reporter ignores Rep. Baldwin’s response.


“Willfully and knowingly” engaging in homosexual relations should not be penalized according to Baldwin; doing so with the intent to spread HIV is what she addressed.  HIV-positive people may engage intimacy with appropriate precautions. Failing to make this distinction might be an oversight on the part of CNSNews or it might be an attempt to change the subject from what the bill says to focus on something that many readers would want to see addressed in law.

However, it is important to note that the bill as written intends “to outlaw all same-sex sexual conduct” and to impose the death penalty on same-sex intimacy, including touching, where one or both parties are HIV-positive, even if the touching is with mutual consent.

Of course, if CNS has no interest in fixing such an obvious error as the defintion of "Christian Identity" in smearing Erroll Southers, addressing rank anti-gay bias is even less of a priority.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:05 AM EST

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