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Twelve Senators Voice Opposition to Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

January 20th, 2010

Twelve U.S. Senators have written to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni calling on him to block the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before that nation’s Parliament. Citing Uganda’s relative success in fighting HIV/AIDS, the Senators note:

While your nation has been a leader in Africa on many fronts, including the reduction of HIV infections, this proposed legislation will be a glaring setback in Uganda’s human rights standing.  Unfortunately, even the mere threat of the new and severe penalties for homosexual behavior suggested in this bill, including life imprisonment and the death penalty, could easily add to an already intolerant atmosphere in Uganda based on sexual orientation.

Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT) joined Democrats Benjamin Cardin (MD), Richard Duban (IL), Daniel Akaka (HI), Christopher Dodd, (CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Sherrod Brown (OH), Jeff Merkley (OR), Patty Murray (WA), , Mark Udall (CO), Diane Feinstein (CA) and Barbara Boxer (CA) in signing the letter.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of the past year’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.

The Honorable Yoweri Museveni
President, Republic of Uganda
c/o of the Embassy of Uganda
5911 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20011

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our deep concern regarding the anti-homosexuality bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament.

This troubling legislation would sanction prejudice toward people in Uganda based solely on sexual orientation, or even HIV status. This is in great contrast to trends toward greater tolerance in the global community.  By creating harsh penalties for homosexuality, this bill not only codifies prejudice, but could also foster an increase in violence towards people simply based on sexual orientation.

The legislation also requires persons “in authority,” which could include government officials, employers, clergy, or others, to provide information about suspected violations of the Act. It further criminalizes the work done by human rights and health organizations that benefit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, claiming those actions to be “homosexual promotion.”  Certainly these are not the types of actions to be encouraged as the world strives to reverse violence, poverty, and human suffering caused by divisiveness and repression.

While your nation has been a leader in Africa on many fronts, including the reduction of HIV infections, this proposed legislation will be a glaring setback in Uganda’s human rights standing.  Unfortunately, even the mere threat of the new and severe penalties for homosexual behavior suggested in this bill, including life imprisonment and the death penalty, could easily add to an already intolerant atmosphere in Uganda based on sexual orientation.

We understand you have recently raised concerns over the legislation and urge you to do to everything within your power to block its advancement. We look forward to continue the process of building a strong and long-lasting relationship between the United States of America and the Republic of Uganda.

Sincerely,

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin
Senator Richard J. Durbin
Senator Daniel Akaka
Senator Christopher Dodd
Senator Joseph Lieberman
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Jeff Merkley
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Mark Udall
Senator Diane Feinstein
Senator Barbara Boxer

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