Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill Returned to Parliament
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today applauds the news that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has declined to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which was passed by the Ugandan parliament on December 20. Citing a need for further review of the bill, which calls for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality,” President Museveni has sent the bill back to parliament for further discussion.
“While this is welcome news for the moment, the world needs to keep its eyes on Uganda and continue all efforts to keep this legislation from becoming law,” said Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First. “We call on President Obama to continue to demonstrate global leadership in advancing the human rights of LGBT people by expressing to President Museveni and the Ugandan government his firm opposition to this legislation and the negative consequences which would result from its enactment, which not only threatens the human rights of LGBT people and other Ugandans but also contributes to a pervasive climate of violence against sexual minorities.”
Reports are unclear as to whether President Museveni will block the law with an official veto, requiring a two-thirds majority vote in parliament to overrule. According to the Ugandan constitution, if President Museveni declines to sign the bill two more times, the bill will automatically become law.
The bill defines “aggravated homosexuality” as a homosexual act where one of the partners is infected with HIV, sex with minors or the disabled, and as repeated sexual offenses among consenting adults. The bill also includes a provision which makes conducting a same-sex marriage ceremony punishable by seven years in prison.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first introduced in 2009, prompting a global outcry from those who condemned the legislation and affirmed the dignity and humanity of LGBT Ugandans. Human Rights First reiterates its categorical opposition to this bill which threatens the rights of LGBT people and establishes a dangerous precedent for persecution and violence against minority groups in the country. Human Rights First calls on the United States to urge President Museveni to decriminalize homosexuality, monitor patterns of hate crime against LGBT people, and address impunity for violent acts.