Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Advances in Parliament
Washington, D.C. –Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill was recently placed on the parliament’s agenda for imminent discussion and has the enthusiastic support of the parliament’s speaker, among other parliamentarians, who declared that its passage in December would be a “Christmas gift” to the Ugandan people. Human Rights First reiterates its categorical opposition to this bill which will have severely adverse consequences for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people as well as other Ugandans. Same-sex relations are already illegal in Uganda, but the bill proposes tougher penalties, including for those assisting LGBTI people, such as health care practitioners, and establishes a dangerous precedent for the persecution of minority groups in the country. 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 LGBTI Ugandans. Currently, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is scheduled to be discussed as “business to follow” pending before the parliament, meaning that it is a high priority, and increases likelihood that Ugandan lawmakers could pass the legislation before the December 15 recess. “We call on President Obama and Secretary Clinton to work toward preventing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill from coming to a vote in the Ugandan Parliament,” said Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre. “They should also reiterate their serious concerns to Ugandan President Museveni, whose signature would be required for the bill to take effect.” Human Rights First commends the Obama Administration for its steadfast opposition to this bill since its introduction in 2009. Efforts to counter laws that criminalize same-sex relations are a key part of President Obama’s memorandum on international initiatives to advance the rights of LGBTI persons. Secretary Clinton has been a champion of efforts to speak out against human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity throughout the world. “American evangelical and other faith leaders have an opportunity to add their influential voices by disassociating themselves from this bill and the discrimination and hostility it will engender against LGBTI Ugandans,” added LeGendre. A recent call for action signed by prominent faith leaders noted that, “Regardless of the diverse theological views of our religious traditions regarding the morality of homosexuality, the criminalization of homosexuality, along with the violence and discrimination against LGBT people that inevitably follows, is incompatible with the teachings of our faith.” Human Rights First supports the courageous efforts made by human rights groups in Uganda to oppose the bill. Julius Kaggwa, a Ugandan civil society leader and recipient of Human Rights First’s 2010 human rights prize, stated that: “Now is the time for the international community to express solidarity with LGBTI Ugandans.” Kaggwa will be a featured speaker at Human Rights First’s Human Rights Summit on December 4-5.