Archbishop Tutu and the Clinton Health Access Initiative Join African Coalition Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2010

In a press release issued yesterday:

Leading African clergy and prominent individuals, as well as more than 60 civil society and human rights groups from 10 sub-Saharan African countries have endorsed a statement calling on the President, Government and Parliament of Uganda to reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in its entirety.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill provides for severe punishment, inclusive imprisonment, for those engaging in same sex relations, as well as for members of the public who fail to report such activities to the authorities.  The original draft also provides for the death penalty and life imprisonment.  The Bill has already gone through the first reading in Parliament and is now before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. “We are very concerned that it could become law within a few weeks or months”, said Adrian Jjuuko, Coordinator of Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

The statement has been endorsed by leading African clergy such as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the current Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Reverend Dr. Thabo Cecil Makgoba and Canon Gideon Byamugisha of Uganda. Others endorsing the statement include Pius Langa, the former Chief Justice of South Africa, and other jurists, academics, truth commissioners and human rights activists.

In the declaration, the endorsing individuals and organizations reaffirm their commitment to the universality of the human rights of all persons.  They note that “all forms of discrimination, in particular against vulnerable groups, undermine the human dignity of all in Africa”.  The statement declares that the Bill “promotes prejudice and hate and encourages harmful and violent action against marginalized groups in Africa”.

“Civil society organizations throughout Africa are mobilizing to persuade Ugandan Parliamentarians to block this pernicious Bill”, said Phumi Mtetwa, Executive Director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project in South Africa. Godwin Buwa, a lawyer with the Refugee Law Project in Kampala said that “if the Bill is passed, even in diluted form, it would constitute a massive setback for human rights in Africa”.

The statement calls on African governments and the African Union to call on the President and Government of Uganda to withdraw the Bill and to respect the human rights of all in Uganda, without exception.


We, the individuals and organizations from African countries listed hereunder, recognize the universality of the human rights of all persons.

We affirm that the right of men and women to have same sex relationships is a fundamental human right.

We are further guided in the knowledge that all forms of discrimination, in particular against vulnerable groups, undermine the human dignity of all in Africa.

We are therefore profoundly disturbed by the nature, content and potential impact of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (“the Bill”) that was recently tabled in and is currently being considered by the Parliament of Uganda.

We believe that the Bill, if enacted, will cut deeply into the fabric of Ugandan society by–

  • Violating the rights of an already vulnerable and severely stigmatized group of persons by attacking their dignity, privacy and other constitutionally protected rights;
  • Disrupting family and community life by compelling everyone, by the threat of criminal sanction, to report those suspected of engaging in same-sex sexual activity;
  • Seeking to withdraw Uganda from the family of nations by reneging on the country’s international law obligations;
  • Undermining public health interventions such as HIV prevention, treatment, care and support;
  • Promoting prejudice and hate and encouraging harmful and violent action to be taken against those engaging in same sex relations.

We respectfully call on the Parliament of Uganda to reject the Bill in its entirety.

We also call on African governments and the African Union to call on the President and Government of Uganda to withdraw the Bill and to respect the human rights of all in Uganda, without exception.

Statement endorsed by:-

African personalities include:[1]

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu (former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Former Chairperson of the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission, former General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, (Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize)

Most Reverend Dr. Thabo Cecil Makgoba (Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town)

Reverend Canon Gideon Byamugisha (Ordained Priest in the Church of Uganda, Recipient of the 2009 Niwano Peace Prize)

Bishop Jo Seoka (Bishop of Pretoria)

Pius Langa, (former Chief Justice of South Africa, Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, former Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu Natal, founder member and former President of the National Association of Democratic (NADEL); co-founder of the Release Mandela Campaign (Natal); recipient of the Order of the Supreme Counselor of the Baobab: Gold)

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC (Acting Judge of the Cape High Court, Member of the South African Judicial Services Commission, Member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, National Chairperson of Advocates for Transformation)

Reverend Bongani Blessing Finca (former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Provincial Electoral Officer for the Eastern Cape, South Africa)

Dr. A. Atia Apusigah (Department of African Studies, University for Development Studies, Ghana)

Yasmin Sooka (former Commissioner of the South African & Sierra Leonean Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, former Acting Judge of the High Court of South Africa, Director of the Foundation for Human Rights)

Kader Asmal, (Honorary Professor, University of the Western Cape; former South African Minister of Education, Barrister of Lincoln’s Inn, London; former Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Trinity College; founding member of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, former Chairperson of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, former member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress)

Dr. Alexander Lionel Boraine, (former President of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Chairperson of the Mauritian Truth & Reconciliation Commission, former Deputy-Chairperson of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission)

Dipak Patel, (former Director-General of Transport in the South African Government and senior officer of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress)

Dr Fazel Randera, (former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, former Inspector-General of Intelligence, former National Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Committee)

Mary Burton (former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, former President of the Black Sash, Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the University of Cape Town, Recipient of National Order of Luthuli Award)

African based Civil Society Organizations:[2]

  1. Africa Centre for HIV/Aids Management (South Africa)
  2. African Council of AIDS Service Organizations (Senegal)
  3. African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (Cameroon)
  4. AIDS Consortium (South Africa)
  5. AIDS Law Project (South Africa)
  6. AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (Namibia)
  7. Amnesty International East Africa (Uganda)
  8. Anti-Privatisation Forum (South Africa)
  9. Artists for a New South Africa (South Africa)
  10. Association for Progressive Communications (South Africa)
  11. Centre for Social Accountability (South Africa)
  12. Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (Malawi)
  13. Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (South Africa)
  14. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (South Africa)
  15. Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (Uganda)
  16. Clinton Health Access Initiative (Uganda)
  17. Coalition to End Discrimination (South Africa)
  18. Development for Peace Education (Sierra Leone)
  19. Engender (South Africa)
  20. Equal Education (South Africa)
  21. Fahamu, African Networks for Social Justice (Kenya)
  22. Foundation for Human Rights (South Africa)
  23. Freedom and Roam Uganda (Uganda)
  24. Gay Umbrella (South Africa)
  25. Gender DynamiX (South Africa)
  26. Grassroots Movement for Health and Development (Malawi)
  27. Gun Free South Africa (South Africa)
  28. Health4Men (South Africa)
  29. History Department of Rhodes University (South Africa)
  30. Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (Uganda)
  31. Human Rights Media Centre (South Africa)
  32. Human Rights Institute of South Africa (South Africa)
  33. Human Rights Watch (South Africa)
  34. Independent Medico Legal Unit (Kenya)
  35. International Center for Transitional Justice (South Africa)
  36. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (South Africa)
  37. Intersex South Africa (South Africa)
  38. Kenya Human Rights Commission (Kenya)
  39. Kubatana Trust (Zimbabwe)
  40. Labour Research Service (South Africa)
  41. Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (South Africa)
  42. Legal Assistance Centre (Namibia)
  43. OUT LGBT Well-Being (South Africa)
  44. Out In AFrica Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (South Africa)
  45. Pambazuka News (Kenya)
  46. People Opposing Women Abuse (South Africa)
  47. Public Service Accountability Monitor; Centre for Social Accountability (South Africa)
  48. Rainbow UCT (South Africa)
  49. Refugee Law Project (Uganda)
  50. Rural Health Advocacy Project (South Africa)
  51. Sexual Minorities Uganda (Uganda)
  52. Social Justice Coalition (South Africa)
  53. Sonke Gender Justice Network (South Africa)
  54. South African History Archive (South Africa)
  55. Southern Africa Litigation Centre (South Africa)
  56. Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (South Africa)
  57. Students for Law & Social Justice (South Africa)
  58. Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (South Africa)
  59. Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)
  60. Uhspa-Uganda (Uganda)
  61. Women’s Academic Solidarity Association of Rhodes University (South Africa)
  62. Women’s Legal Centre (South Africa)
  63. Women’sNet (South Africa)


April 1st, 2010


very powerful… both the content and all the signatures.

James Ash

April 2nd, 2010

Congratulations to Jim Burroway and the entire BTB staff for making this outrageous bill such an embarrassment to the civilized world that it will surely have to be withdrawn. Thank God that now there is no other honorable course of action for the government of an officially Anglican nation but to stop oppressing its gay citizens, decriminalize homosexuality fully, make gay bashing a serious crime, honor the moral integrity of gay marriage, and join the rest of civilized humanity. It’s about time!
James Ash

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