By Andrew M. Potts
Government and Opposition senators have joined forces to defeat a motion condemning an anti-gay bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament.
The Ugandan bill criminalises any act of same-gendered sexual intimacy with 10 years imprisonment, with repeat offenders to be jailed for life and HIV positive people eligible for the death penalty.
The creation, possession or distribution of material presenting homosexuality in a positive light would also be banned under the law, as would advocacy on behalf of GLBT people, while voiding international treaties where they apply to same-sex attracted individuals.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young put to motion of condemnation last Thursday.
But Labor’s Joe Ludwig told senators it was inappropriate for the Senate to hear such a resolution.
“The Government’s view is that complex matters of international relations should not be considered in the Senate by means of formal motions. It is counterproductive for motions of this kind to single out one country,” he said, before restating the Government’s opposition to laws criminalising GLBT people.
“As recently as last month … the Australian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva noted the importance of eliminating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,” he said.
“Australia will continue to advocate in support of human rights of all individuals in a manner that we judge to be effective.”
When put to a vote, only the Independent, Nick Xenophon, supported the motion out of 34 non-Greens senators in the chamber.
Eric Abetz, manager of Opposition Business in the Senate, did not explain his party’s opposition to the motion.
The bill is supported by the Ugandan Muslim Supreme Council, as well as the Orthodox, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist and Anglican churches in Uganda.