You may have heard the BBC, the AP and even Huffington Post report that the kill-the-gays part of the anti-gay bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament — a bill backed and funded and influenced (if not outright written) by deep-pocketed American Christian antigay activists — was removed from that bill.

Don’t believe it.

Box Turtle Bulletin’s Jim Burroway points out the following:

But despite these latest reports you’ve read — or the fifteen or  more before them — the death penalty has not been removed. That can only happen when the full Parliament decides to vote on the Legal and Parliamentary Committee’s recommendation to remove the death penalty from Clause 3.  And that will only stand the greatest chance of happening if the Legal and Parliamentary Committee actually recommends making that change — which its members claims was done but can’t show you the committee’s draft report because its a “secret.” Which should be a red flag the size of North Korea’s because the last time the Legal and Parliamentary Committee claimed it recommended removing the death penalty, it actually did no such thing.

What short memory spans everyone has. It was just last week when the BBC  – per its usual jumping-the-gun instinct – announced that the decision to drop the death penalty was a done deal. In case you’re counting, that’s at least the third time the BBC announced the death penalty’s demise, and its third announcement proved just as wrong as the earlier two.

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But as we’ve said repeatedly, it has never been removed. And we will never tell you that it has been removed until and unless, you know, it has been removed – which has never happened in the bill’s entire three year history. Although the bill’s supporters have done their best to try to convince you otherwise.

The Ugandan Parliament is currently embroiled in controversy over two Petroleum Bills which, if passed into law, will effectively turn over the nation’s newly-discovered oil wealth to one person: The Energy Minister, who is a presidential appointee with no oversight from Parliament. The government will want to distract the people’s attention from what they’ve done, and just as corrupt American politicians whip up antigay fervor as a cover for their own misdeeds, the expectation in many quarters is that the Ugandan government will use the Anti-Homosexual Bill to distract from this bit of oil-related corruption. (That’s probably the main reason why they haven’t passed the AHB yet — the Petroleum Bills must come first, and then the AHB will likely follow almost immediately.)

What can we do about this? Contacting your legislators would work — Barney Frank in particular is working on this issue. Putting pressure on Uganda’s president to veto it has worked in the past, and from the frantic efforts made by the bill’s backers to defuse that pressure with lies, it’s likely that it can work again. One option is to sign the CREDO petition set up to do just that. The signatures will be hand-delivered to the Ugandan Embassy in Washington, DC.

You know what to do.

UPDATE: Keep your fingers crossed — there is a growing chance that the controversy caused by the oil bills may delay their passage long enough to keep them from being voted on before the Christmas holiday break. Since the AHB is wanted by the government as a distraction device to be kept in reserve on passage of the oil bills, this means that the AHB is delayed as well. Delayed, but not dead.