Friday, February 1, 2013

Uganda: With friends like NZ you don't need enemies

Idiot/Savant at  No Right Turn blogs,

                                            Cartoon Damien Glez Radio Netherlands Worldwide

National: Homophobic bigots

At the moment several African governments are progressing virulently homophobic legislation. There's Uganda's"Kill the Gays" bill, which would impose the death penalty for homosexuality and require reporting of homosexuals to the government. And in Nigeria there's similar, though less brutal, legislation, which would (among other things) outlaw LGBT support groups.

Today Labour's Charles Chauvel tried to move a motion expressing Parliament's condemnation of this bigotry:

CHARLES CHAUVEL to move, That this House note with grave concern both the recently retabled legislation in Uganda, that would increase the penalties imposed in that country for certain consensual sexual activity between two consenting adults in private, and the legislation, passed recently by Nigeria’s legislature but not yet signed into law, which would criminalise freedom of association and advocacy for same-sex couples and organisations; and state its hope and expectation that the New Zealand Government will urge other governments to uphold the rights of all people to their privacy and dignity in accordance with international law.

National vetoed it.

I think this tells us exactly where National stands on gay rights. They'll send John Key along to the Big Gay Out, but at their core they're simply bigots, no different from Family First or the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

There are some points worth looking at here. David Farrar at Kiwiblog refutes this  rant by No Right Turn very effectively and points out the move by Charles Chauvel is actually little more than political grandstanding on his part. I agree with Farrar again that Chauvel operated outside the accepted process

Idiot/Savant goes feral and sanctimonious so often, I’m not even surprised anymore. I doubt anyone takes his denunciations too seriously but in case they do, I thought I’d point out how Parliament operates.

A motion by a individual MP is basically never scheduled for debate or voting on. To have an MP’s motion considered, you need to seek permission of the House, and it takes just one individual MP to object to leave being granted. So if you want your motion voted on, then there is a process in place to ascertain in advance that the Government is happy for it to be put (so long as without debate). Basically you discuss it with your party’s whips, they discuss it with the Government whips, and they check with the Leader of the House. This process is widely known and is there precisely so opposition MPs can get non-controversial motions considered. The Government has actually been very accommodating of the rights of the minority through things such as negotiating extended sittings rather than forcing urgency on the House.

That of course fairly much sums it up from the New Zealand perspective. Political grandstanding by Charles Chauvel and followed by a stupid rant from Idiot / Savant. but there is of course a Ugandan perspective to the story. I commented at Kiwiblog.

" A couple of observations. Chauvel and Idiot / Savant are both grandstanding the legislation has been sitting on the Ugandan Parliaments inbox for ages. The Speaker who is a silly bitch picked it up and then went further and deeply offended the Canadian’s who suggested it was a bad idea. Incidently the bill as it now stands does not proscribe the death penalty  it has been reduced to life in prison not much of a improvement. Ugandan President Museveni has made it very clear Uganda won’t be dictated to on this issue by the West and in the same breath said it was not a legislative priority. I think that it is safe to say Uganda has taken the view that aid money is more important than homophobic legislative stupidity.

Uganda's president has said gay people should not be killed or persecuted, as MPs continue to consider a controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
In his first public comments on the bill for some time, President Yoweri Museveni also said that homosexuality should not be promoted.
The original version of the bill stipulated the death penalty for some homosexual acts but this has reportedly been dropped."

Now Chauvel should have been aware of both the reduced sentence and the position of Museveni and given that Shearer ( NZ Leader of the Labour party and leader of the opposition ) should be an African expert I am amazed this was ever contemplated.

Uganda might well decide that it has no choice but to demonstrate its independence if parliaments / parliamentarians around the world follow the Chauvel example."

That was very much written with a New Zealand audience in mind but it would seem to me that the correct place to do this is in forums such as the Canadians did.

" At the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Quebec, Canada, Ms Kadaga was involved in an altercation with that country’s Foreign Affairs minister, Mr John Baird, after the latter accused Uganda of trampling on human rights."

The Parliament of New Zealand should think very hard about passing motions condemning governments for having a bill on the books, if the Bill became law then the situation would be different but at this point in time had Chauvel's attempt succeeded we would be in the strange position of having offended a friendly fellow commonwealth nation for actually trying to balance democracy ( make no mistake this bill would get through the Ugandan parliament and it would be supported by the majority of Ugandans ) with human rights in  difficult circumstances.

Idiot / Savant of course object to Farrar's  analysis and blogged 

So, it looks like my calling National on its bullshit yeterday has struck a nerve. According to DPF, National's MP's aren't bigots - they just think proper Parliamentary procedure is more important than doing the right thing.

Well, that makes everything alright then (/sarcasm).

But the fact is that there was no infringement of proper Parliamentary procedure. Standing Orders give any member the right to raise issues in the manner Charles Chauvel did. And when they do, I expect the case to be assessed on its merits (which in this case are fairly significant). DPF OTOH seems to think deference and hierarchy and grovelling to the right person are more important and that anyone who doesn't do this to the satisfaction of those in power should be dismissed out of hand. Which is after all what National and other conservative parties are all about - but its a pretty shitty worldview, and the idea that its more important than doing the right thing is simply ridiculous.

If National's members and MPs are upset at being criticised for this behaviour, then they have an easy course of action available: change that behaviour. They need to talk to the Leader of the House and their whips and make them aware of the reputational damage their bigotry and dismissive attitude are causing. Alternatively, if they're sick of their reputation being damaged by their more bigoted associates, then maybe they should end that association, and find better friends, rather than whining about being held responsible for the company they keep.

My problem here is that it is becoming very clear that this isn't an issue about Ugandan Human rights but rather about New Zealand politics with Chauvel and Idiot / Savant using the Ugandan situation as a political football. New Zealand will probably pass legislation this year legalising gay marriage so there is no way that Idiot / Savants allegations stand up. Farrar responds.    

" Standing Orders gives an MP the right to get up and say “I seek leave” for anything at all. But anyone who is not a moron would understand the desirability of actually giving people advance notice of your intention to seek leave. This is nothing to do with hierarchy, and everything to do with whether you wish to grandstand or actually achieve something.

It is entirely unreasonable to expect MPs to decide within two seconds whether or not they agree with a motion being voted on. And it is blatant smear tactics to label people bigots because an MO failed to notify other MPs that he would be seeking leave that afternoon. Idiot/Savant has become the boy who cried wolf. The list of people he has never called a bigot is probably a very small one."

Again we have Farrar pointing out what happens, MP's get 2 seconds to decide. Now I would definitely need more than two seconds to reach an informed decision on Uganda if I wasn't aware of the situation so my inclination would be to decline but having probably more knowledge than most of my fellow New Zealander's I would decline on an informed basis that by supporting such stupidity I would potentially be making the situation for gay people in Uganda far more precarious. Chauvel as a gay MP should have made the effort to become more informed.   From reading No Right Turn it would not surprise me if Idiot / Savant was also gay. Regardless they both should have known better, they should have bothered to get themselves informed, neither did or if they did they are bigger fools than they currently appear.

Neither Farrar or I are gay but I suspect that both us would put the Ugandan human rights situation into perspective before charging off like wounded bulls. If Chauvel had any integrity he would admit he was saved from a potential fuck up that came about as a direct result to gain political points in New Zealand at the expense of gay and lesbian Ugandans.


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