The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill: One Year Later

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2010

It was exactly one year ago today that the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced before Uganda’s Parliament. The world was shocked to learn that this bill would include the death sentence for gay people under certain circumstances, jail friends and relatives who refuse to report gay people to police for up to three years, and outlaw all attempts at advocacy or providing services for or on behalf of gay people. The gay community in Ugandan has had it very hard since then. To remind us of what they have gone through and the threat that still exists, Sexual Minorities Uganda has issued the following press release that provides a good retrospective of the past year. I’ve taken the liberty of adding some hyperlinks selected from the hundreds of stories we’ve posted in the past year so you can learn more about each point.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
KAMPALA – UGANDA

One Year since the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill – 2009

On October 14, 2009 the draft Anti Homosexuality Bill was introduced to the Parliament of Uganda by Ndoorwa West MP David Bahati. Mr Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill stipulates the death penalty for repeated same-sex relations and life imprisonment for all other homosexual acts. A person in authority who fails to report an offender to the police within 24 hours will face 3 years in jail. Likewise, the promotion of homosexuality carries a sentence of 5 to 7 years in jail.

This Bill is an expression of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence. The bill abuses the dignity, privacy and equality of people with a different sexual orientation and identity other than heterosexual. If passed into law, it will further legitimize public and private violence, harassment and torture.

It has promoted hate-speech in churches, schools and the media. It has led to defamation, blackmail, evictions, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, physical assault, emotional and mental assault of LGBT activists, our families and allies.

The bill has further led to increased violence incited by local media, particularly The Red Pepper tabloid and recently launched Rolling Stone newspaper. The headline of the Rolling Stone viciously screamed “100 pictures of Ugandan’s top homos leak- Hang them” in their Vol. 1 No. 05 October 02-09, 2010. They published pictures, names, residences and other details of LGBT activists and allies.

“When my neighbors saw my picture in the paper, they were furious. They threw stones at me while I was in my house. I was so terrified somehow I managed to flee my home to safety.” said Stosh [Programme Coordinator- Kulhas Uganda]

“The sad truth is that most evil in Uganda is done by people who end up never being held accountable for their deeds. The Rolling Stone publication has incited violence against a group of minorities making them seem like less of HUMAN BEINGS” Gerald [Admin – SMUG].

The bill constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of privacy, association, assembly and security of the person as enshrined in Constitution of Uganda’s and International Human Rights Law.

The impact of such legal and social exclusion is being felt in the lives of LGBTI Ugandans. Sexual Minorities Uganda strongly condemns such laws and media witch-hunt of homosexuals.

We would like to acknowledge Human Rights institutions and activists, local, regional and international Civil Society, Development partners and friends around the world for the enormous support to the Uganda LGBTI community and request for your continued call to African governments to repeal the ‘sodomy laws’.

Contacts:
Frank Mugisha
fmugisha@sexualminoritiesuganda.org

Pepe Julian Onziema
jpepe@sexualminoritiesuganda.org

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