Take Action: Tell Uganda To Respect Human Rights And Dismiss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
October 19th, 2009
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has issued an Action Alert, asking everyone to write to the Ugandan authorities to express your concern about their latest attempts to criminalize homosexuality and institute the death sentence in certain circumstances.
According to the text of the bill introduced in the Ugandan Parliament last week, the new law would:
- Reaffirm the lifetime sentence currently provided upon conviction of homosexuality, and extends the definition from sexual activity to merely “touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
- Create a new category of “aggravated homosexuality” which provides for the death penalty for “repeat offenders” and for cases where the individual is HIV-positive.
- Criminalizes all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years.
- Criminalizes the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
- Adds a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
- Adds an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
According to the IGLHRC, the bill’s impacts are wide-ranging:
The bill effectively bans any kind of community or political organizing around non-heteronormative sexuality. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be seriously compromised. Women, sex workers, people living with AIDS, and other marginalized groups may also find their activities tracked and criminalized through this bill.
The IGLHRC provides contact information (email and phone numbers, where available) and a sample letter. You can also send a letter to Exodus, the International Healing Foundation, and Abiding Truth Ministries, as well as and demand that they speak out on the latest outrage which stems from their representatives’ participation in a three-day anti-gay conference in Kampala. The currently proposed anti-homosexuality bill is a direct result of that conference put on by Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, Abiding Truth Ministry’s Scott Lively, and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge. For more information on the role their activists played in this latest outrage, please see the links to our coverage at the end of this post.
Please send your letter to:
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
State House Nakasero
Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi
Speaker of the Parliament
Edward Ssekandi Kiwanuka
Minister of Gender, Labour, and Social Affairs
Honorable Opio Gabriel
Chair of the Uganda Human Rights Commission
Directorate for Ethics and Integrity
Chair of the Uganda Diplomatic Human Rights Working Groups
Please also send a copy to:
Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda Embassy of the United States of America
Jerry P. Lanier
Send an email and fax to:
Ambassador to the US
Perezi K. Kamunanwire
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations
336 East 45 Street
New York, NY 10017
I am writing to express concern about legislation that would severely restrict the rights of Ugandan citizens, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their defenders, in direct contravention of domestic and international law. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 would not only reaffirm penalties for homosexuality, but would criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality,” including funding and sponsoring LGBT organizations and broadcasting, publishing, or marketing materials on homosexuality. Any person in authority who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to a significant fine and up to 3 years in prison – even when this means turning in their colleagues, family, or friends.
The negative repercussions of the bill in Uganda will be immediate and severe. It effectively bans the free association and expression that are necessary for a flourishing civil society, and creates a climate of fear and hostility that undermines the citizenship and solidarity of all Ugandans. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. Effective HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be difficult, if not impossible.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill violates National Objective 5(2) of the Ugandan Constitution, which provides that “the State shall guarantee and respect the independence of non-governmental organizations which protect and promote human rights.” Moreover, it directly violates the right to equality and freedom from discrimination (Article 21), the right to privacy (Article 27), the right to freedoms of speech, expression, association, and assembly (Article 29), the protection of minorities (Article 36), and the protection of civic rights and activities (Article 38) to which all Ugandans are entitled. It also violates the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party. This bill undermines Uganda’s commitment to the international human rights regime and threatens the basic human rights of all its citizens.
The Bill’s revocation of fundamental rights would also seriously undermine the country’s reputation and credibility in the international arena. Because it claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while outside of the country, the Bill will strain Uganda’s relations with regional and international partners.
While people may hold differing opinions about sexual orientation and gender identity, the legislation before Parliament is an ineffective and fundamentally illegal way to express opposition to a minority group. In recognition of the importance of a diverse, dynamic civil society and the domestic and international commitments that Uganda has made, I urge you to swiftly dismiss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 and reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of all Ugandans.