Scout movement under pressure over Ugandan anti-gay bill

By staff writers
February 16, 2010

The worldwide Scout movement has come under pressure to denounce the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, given that the Bill’s proposer, David Bahati, is Chief of the Scout Board of Uganda.

Bahati’s Bill, in its current form, would introduce the death penalty for a repeat “offence” of sexual activity with someone of the same sex. It would also imprison anyone in authority, such as a teacher, Scout leader or minister of religion, who fails to report an instance of homosexuality.

The World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) has been asked to disaffiliate the Ugandan Scout Board unless Bahati is removed from his position.

"The leader of the Scout movement in Uganda is demanding the execution of all scouts and scout leaders who commit repeated homosexual acts," said the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, “Scout leaders who fail to report gay scouts to the police will face three years in jail. Any scout leader who provides supportive advice to a gay scout will be jailed for five to seven years.”

Acting on behalf of the organisation Outrage!, Tatchell has written to Derek Twine, Chief Executive of the Scout Association UK, to thank him for referring the issue to WOSM. However, he said that action needed to go further.

“While we appreciate that every National Scout Organisation (NSO) is independent, we also understand that the WOSM membership of each NSO is conditional on them conforming to the WOSM's scouting values,” wrote Tatchell.

He added that David Bahati’s “stance and actions are incompatible with scouting values”.

Outrage! is asking the Scout Association UK to ask the WOSM to disaffiliate the Ugandan organisation, to issue a statement condemning the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and to refuse to host Bahati in the UK.

“While he remains head Scout, his actions reflect badly on the whole international Scouting movement,” said Tatchell, “It is imperative that the British and world Scouting authorities speak out against him and his bill which, if passed, will have deadly consequences for Scout members in Uganda”.

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