Britain’s top scouting chief has condemned Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which stipulates the death sentence for some forms of homosexual behaviour.
The chief executive of the Scout Association UK, Derek Twine, has described the proposed legislation as “discriminatory” and “incompatible” with scouting values. The Bill has been tabled by David Bahati MP, who is also chairman of the Scout Association of Uganda.
Twine’s statement follows representations to the UK and international scout movement by the London-based gay human-rights organization, OutRage!. Twine said in a letter to Peter Tatchell of OutRage!: “We find the Bill not only discriminatory and contrary to the sanctity of life, but also completely incompatible with our interpretation of the values of our worldwide Scouting Movement.”
His letter continues: “We have already drawn our grave concerns on this to the attention of the Secretary General of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM), and we are subsequently aware that the issues are now subject both to WOSM’s direct engagement with the Chief Scout of Uganda (Mrs Maggie Kigozi) and to ongoing global consideration by members of the World Scout Committee.”
This statement from the UK Scout Association follows simultaneous direct representations by OutRage! to the World Organization of the Scout Movement in Geneva.
“At our request, the world scout headquarters has written to the Chief Scout and the Chief Commissioner of the Uganda Scout Association concerning the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the sponsorship of this Bill by the Chairman of the Uganda Scout Association, David Bahati MP,” Peter Tatchell reports. This swift action followed our protests against Mr Bahati to the Scout Association UK.
“Scouting is very big in Uganda and Mr Bahati derives great prestige from his position as chairman of the Scout Association of Uganda. If we can get him removed from office it will be a significant personal blow to him. He’ll be weakened and his credibility undermined.
“OutRage! is urging the disaffiliation of the Ugandan scout organization from the world scouting movement, as a way of adding further pressure on the Ugandan government to drop the Bill.
“Our request for disaffiliation was immediately forwarded by the Scout Association UK to the World Organization of the Scout Movement in Geneva.
“OutRage!’s actions,” says Tatchell in a news release today, “are an attempt to open up a new front in the campaign against the Bill and to graphically expose the full ramifications of the proposed legislation on youth and civic organizations in Uganda, which have received little coverage so far.
“By highlighting the particular threat to LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) scout members, we are not detracting in any way from the wider issues and consequences of Mr Bahati’s draconian legislation.
“LGBT scouts and scout leaders are, of course, only one section of the Ugandan LGBT community. All Ugandan LGBTs are at risk if this Bill becomes law. We are concerned about the danger to them all – and the threat to their straight families, friends, supporters and allies,” adds Tatchell.