Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Law an Alarming Human Rights Setback
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today expressed deep disappointment in the news that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that violates the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and other Ugandans. The bill calls for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality” and is an alarming sign of the ongoing repressive crackdown on freedom of expression and association in Uganda.
“The international community must remain engaged in Uganda, where we may see a rise in hate crimes committed against LGBT people. When the government official designates a group of people as second-class citizens, those who are already biased against them may see that step as a green light for violence,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “We’ve seen this play out in Russia and Nigeria, where horrific violence committed against the LGBT community is largely overlooked by law enforcement. We now must be on guard for the same in Uganda.”
Human Rights First calls on Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately recall the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda to review the direction of U.S. human rights policy in Uganda and develop a plan from the United States and its allies to respond to this law. The organization urges the State Department to convene all of its diplomatic representatives to review the effectiveness of U.S. funding programs and assess whether the Uganda can be a reliable partner in trade compacts and democracy and governance programs currently underway, as well as assess whether any U.S. funds are being used to prosecute people under the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
In addition, Human Rights First urges the Museveni government to recognize the imperative of protecting its LGBT citizens from violence, and expects the US government to hold Museveni accountable when hate crimes occur.
“This law is abhorrent and we are categorically opposed to it. At the same time, there are steps the Museveni government can and should take to ensure that there are not spikes in hate crimes against LGBT people including acknowledging and condemning hate crimes whenever they occur, providing adequate instructions and resources to law enforcement bodies for protection and monitoring and reporting on hate crimes as they occur,” says Gaylord.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill calls for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality,” defined 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.