Museveni Words Not Enough to Protect Uganda’s LGBTI Population
Washington, D.C. – At a ceremony to swear in the new head of the Anglican Church of Uganda, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni stated that homosexuals should not be killed or persecuted. The remark was apparently made in reference to an Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently under discussion in Uganda’s Parliament. In its current form, the proposed bill stipulates that those convicted of the homosexuality could face life imprisonment and in some case the death penalty. Museveni also used his speech to reiterate his stance that “there should be no promotion of homosexuality” in Uganda. “We join President Museveni in opposing the death penalty and imprisonment provisions contained in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. We also call on him to more directly declare his readiness to veto any legislation that contains such provisions,” said Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre. “Separately, beyond the legislation currently under consideration by Uganda’s Parliament, President Museveni should take steps to overturn existing legislation that already criminalizes homosexuality with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.” Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) Ugandans and their supporters face severe marginalization and continue to suffer from discrimination, arbitrary arrests and detention, “corrective” rape and hate crime violence that includes murder. Media outlets have publicized the names and pictures of LGBTI individuals, causing them to lose their jobs, places of residence, and family support, and even making them possible targets of mob violence. LeGendre added, “Though President Museveni’s remarks are welcome steps toward protecting LGBTI people in Uganda, we are disappointed by his apparent support for efforts to criminalize the ‘promotion of homosexuality,’ an ill-defined new concept that could imprison those who provide medical or pastoral care to LGBTI persons or those who defend the human rights of LGBTI persons.” Earlier this month, American Christian leaders decried propagation of the dangerous myth that LGBTI persons pose an inherent threat to children. The signatories of the statement reiterate their belief that the criminalization of homosexuality in any form is incompatible with Christian faith in democratic societies. Human Rights First calls on more religious communities to echo those sentiments and oppose persecution and violence motivated by intolerance. The organization’s recommendations for U.S. government leaders are outlined in “How to Protect LGBTI Persons around the World from Violence,” a blueprint for next Congress and Obama Administration. The document addresses, among other recommendations, the need for American leaders to combat criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad and offers steps to achieve this goal.