Desmond Tutu Pens Op-Ed for Ugandan Newspaper
December 11th, 2012
Ugandans will wake up tomorrow morning to find an important op-ed in Daily Monitor, that country’s largest independent newspaper, by former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu calling on Uganda’s Parliament to drop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. As a respected leader in the struggle against apartheid, Tutu draws parallels between that odious policy and the one that Uganda’s Parliament is poised to impose:
Should the Anti-Homosexuality Bill be voted into law, it will criminalise acts of love between certain categories of people, just as the apartheid government made intimate relations between black and white South Africans a punishable offence.
Members of the apartheid police force charged with the upkeep of “morality” would rush into the bedrooms of suspected offenders to gather evidence, such as warm bed sheets. Those found guilty were arrested, put on trial and punished. What awaits the people of Uganda?
…People have over many centuries devised all kinds of terrible instruments to oppress other people. Usually, they have rationalised their awful actions on the basis of their belief in their own superiority, in their culture, in their spiritual beliefs, in their skin-colour. Thus, they argue, they are justified to hate and bomb and maim the “other”. The Anti-Homosexuality legislation now under consideration in Uganda is just such an instrument.
…To those who claim that homosexuality is not part of our African culture, you are conveniently ignoring the fact that LGBTI Africans have lived peacefully and productively beside us throughout history.
I am proud that in South Africa, when we succeeded in overthrowing apartheid, we put in place a Constitution that prohibited all forms of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
We did this because we understood that the freedom of one depends upon the freedom of all. We call it the spirit of ubuntu: the idea that I cannot be free if you are not also free.
A truly magnificent op-ed from one of the towering defenders of human rights.
Archbishop Tutu and the Clinton Health Access Initiative Join African Coalition Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
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.