Uganda Human Rights Coalition Opposes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

A broad coalition of human rights advocacy organizations in Uganda issued a press release late yesterday. Here is the press release in full:

Press Statement

Uganda: Parliament Should Reject Anti-Homosexuality Bill

16th February 2012

On Tuesday 7th February 2012, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (2009) was reintroduced to the Parliament of Uganda. If passed, this draft legislation would violate the human rights of all Ugandans, and should immediately be dropped, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), The Human Rights Centre Uganda (HRCU), and Human Rights Network-Uganda (HURINET) said today.

Hon. David Bahati’s widely condemned private member’s bill is one of ten bills saved and reintroduced from the previous Parliament. The bill had its first reading on 7th February 2012 and was referred to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for scrutiny. It is understood that the bill was re-tabled in its original form but that amendments recommended by the Committee last year will be incorporated. Although Hon. Bahati is reported in the media to have said that the death penalty for ‘serial’ acts of homosexuality will be dropped, this is not yet confirmed. EHAHRDP, FHRI, HRCU and HURINET express their concern at the lack of clarity surrounding the parliamentary process and contents of the bill, and call on Parliament to clarify on this matter.

EHAHRDP, FHRI, HRCU and HURINET recall the submission by the Uganda Human Rights Commission in its 2010 annual report that “some of the provisions in the bill are unnecessary, and that most of them violate international human rights standards.” The rejection of certain international standards envisaged in the 2009 bill sets a dangerous precedent regarding Uganda’s respect for the human rights commitments it has made.

The bill contains harsh provisions which would seriously restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and would threaten the ability of some human rights organisations to continue operating. Already, on 14th February the Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity, Hon. Rev. Fr. Lokodo Simon, ordered the unconstitutional shutdown of a capacity-building workshop organized by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights defenders in Entebbe. The bill and such actions by government representatives reinforce the more general threats to civil society space in Uganda, such as the onerous regulation of public meetings and discussions sought to be introduced with the Public Order Management Bill.

As well as threatening the safety of LGBTI people generally, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill also jeopardizes the security of human rights defenders working on these issues. The re-tabling of the bill just days after the first anniversary of the murder of LGBTI activist and EHAHRDP founding member, David Kato, is a stark reminder of the insecurity this bill has already caused in Uganda.

More generally, the bill would have a wide-reaching and disturbing effect on the freedoms of the majority of Ugandans. If health professionals, spiritual leaders, teachers, business people, landlords, and many others in positions built upon trust and confidentiality fail to disclose to the authorities persons they suspect of being homosexual, under the provisions of this bill would also be targeted for prosecution themselves.

EHAHRDP, FHRI, HRCU and HURINET welcome the statement issued by the Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity on Wednesday 8th February that the bill “does not enjoy the support of the Prime Minister or the Cabinet.” We call on the authorities to ensure the physical safety of LGBTI community members and human rights activists and fulfill the commitment made by Uganda during the Universal Periodic Review in October 2011 to “take immediate concrete steps to stop discrimination and assaults against LGBT persons.”

EHAHRDP, FHRI, HRCU and HURINET call on the Members of Parliament, and all Ugandans, to reject this discriminatory and divisive bill and refuse to be distracted from the real pressing issues facing the country at this time, such as the debate over the exploitation of Uganda’s oil resources.

For more information, please contact:

Hassan Shire, Executive Director, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, on or +256 772 753 753

Livingstone Sewanyana, Executive Director, Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, on or +256 414 510 263/498

Margaret Sekaggya, Executive Director, The Human Rights Centre Uganda, on or +256 414 266 186

Mohammed Ndifuna, Chief Executive Officer, Human Rights Network-Uganda, on or +256 714 419 229

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  • Lynn David

    Even a couple of possible Muslims in those groups.

  • Richard Willmer

    It’s a good text and, yes, nice to see people (probably) with different religious affiliations working together for the common good.

  • Richard Willmer

    (BTW, the 2010 Pew Forum survey in UG suggested that Ugandan Muslims are more tolerant than both their Christian compatriots and their compatriots generally.)

  • Maazi NCO

    (BTW, the 2010 Pew Forum survey in UG suggested that Ugandan Muslims are more tolerant than both their Christian compatriots and their compatriots generally.)

    Muslims more tolerant of gayism than Christians??

    Buahahahahahahahahaha 😀

  • Maazi NCO

    Even a couple of possible Muslims in those groups.

    Of course, there are Muslims who are members of western-funded NGOs in Kampala. Like their Christian counterparts, the Muslim members of these NGOs must sing for their supper. Failure to belt a catchy tune for the generous Western masters could spell the end of donor packages given to promote “gay rights” (usually hidden as a subtext to the amorphous definition of “human rights”).

  • Richard Willmer

    ‘Maazi’ just loves his ‘stereotypes’ (no real surprise there, of course)! But that’s what the survey indicated …

    What strikes one so sad about ‘Maazi’ is that he has completely lost sight of the real issues involved with the Bill (assuming that he ever had sight of them) and simply wants to ‘be proved right’ at any cost. He has backed himself into a lose-lose position: either the Bill falls and he loses face (a small lose in reality), or the Bill goes through and he and his country stands to lose potentially rather a lot.

    (Of course, if ‘Maazi’s’ human rights were threatened, he would be most upset if the UHRC and others failed to speak up on his behalf! But then that’s the way with our ‘Maazi’!)

  • Patrocles

    Problem is, that “Human Rights” haven’t the ring or sound they had when the U.N. were founded. That’s the consequence of long-time abuse. The vocable “human rights” has been used for all sorts of claims which had no appeal to reason. And moreover “human rights” have become a pretext for monetary or military intervention in foreign nations.

    When rhetorical means become inflated, they lose value.

    Telling people that “gays have a human right to live” might have had a powerful effect in former times. Nowadays people are used to hear that “gays have a human right to marry”. So if they hear that “gays have a human right to live”, will they feel that it’s more important or more noncontroversial?

  • Richard Willmer

    Be that as it may, Patrcoles, the fact is the Bahati Bill represents an full-on attack on the human right of gays to live free from violence and unjust treatment under criminal law.

    When supporters of the Bill talk about gay marriage, they are throwing sand in our faces. The Bill has nothing to do with gay marriage (which is de facto not legal in Uganda in any case); it is an attack on the most fundamental human rights that you and I take for granted.

  • Richard Willmer

    POINT OF CORRECTION: gay marriage is actually DE JURE not recognized in Uganda (this has been the case since 2005). Thus, bahatites who pretend that their ‘legislative rottweiler’ has anything whatever to do with gay marriage are just plain liars.