Statements by Ugandan & African organisations against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The following Ugandan and African human rights organisations have condemned the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill 20009:

Ugandan Law Society.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed to Parliament in 2009 would, if enacted into law, in its current state violate international human rights law and lead to further human rights violations.

The bill has been received with mixed feelings of both praise and strong criticism with praise coming from the local populace and criticism from the international media, western governments, international and local gay rights, human rights, civil rights, and scientific organizations, world leaders, some Christian organizations including the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church of Canada.

The Uganda Law Society (ULS) is an institution that defends and promotes constitutionalism, the rule of law and the human rights of every Ugandan citizen. The ULS therefore in the same spirit acknowledges and defends 100% the rights of all citizens including the small percentage of the population living as homosexuals.

A coalition of African Human Rights organisations : 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):

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.”

The Ugandan Justice Minister, Kahinda Otafiire has stated he has “no problem with same sex consenting adults”.

Otafiire, whose docket also includes Constitutional Affairs, said enforcing the infamous Anti Homosexuality Bill, which seeks the death penalty for gays, would be difficult.

The minister said he wondered how police would adduce evidence to get a conviction.

Otafiire told a meeting of Human Rights Defenders in Kampala on Thursday February 16 that while he “does not like gays, and gays do not like me, we can co-exist.”

The government owned New Vision newspaper reported that the minister said gays can coexist [with heterosexuals] but discouraged “marketing” and “seducing children into their ranks.”

It is not clear if Otafiire was giving his personal opinion on the bill, or whether he was speaking in his capacity as Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister. His comments come a few days after Simon Lokodo, the Ethics and Integrity Minister forcefully closed a meeting of gay activists in Entebbe.

Coalition of African Lesbians

The COALITION OF AFRICAN LESBIANS (CAL), a pan African network of lesbian, bisexual and gender non-conforming people, organizations and individuals, calls upon every person who believes in the dignity, equality and freedom of every human being, to take note of and act urgently to halt the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which has just been re – tabled in Uganda. We look to African human rights activists and defenders, politicians, religious leaders, cultural leaders, scholars, lawyers, medical professionals, educators, parents and all human rights respecting and promoting individuals and institutions, to take such urgent action.
The draconian Bill was re-tabled in the Parliament of Uganda by Member of Parliament, David Bahati, on February 7, 2012. The Bill had its first reading and was referred to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for scrutiny. The Committee is expected to examine it and conduct public hearings, and then it will report back to the House for a formal debate on the Bill.

Urgent Africa Fund – Kenya

Standing in solidarity …
Urgent Action Fund-Africa (UAF-Africa) would like to express outrage and dismay at the re-introduction of the anti homosexuality Bill in the Ugandan parliament.

As an African regional organization that supports women’s human rights, we recognize that sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of our selves and should never lead to discrimination, abuse or murder.

We should not make people live in constant fear of losing their jobs, their families, their livelihoods, their freedom, and their lives because they are seen as different from the rest of us. We are of the opinion that this proposed law is inhumane because it violates every aspect of a human being.

UAF-Africa stands in solidarity with all Africans who stand up, raise their voices, and defend the full equality and human rights of all, including LGBTQI people. We call upon the Ugandan parliament to dismiss the Bill when it comes to the floor of the house for debate. The Ugandan government should be cognizant of its responsibility to promote, protect, and respect the human rights of all citizens including putting measures in place that assure everyone of this protection instead of taking away this fundamental human right.

Statement from Ugandan Frontline Defenders

Front Line Defenders reiterates its grave concern that the passing of the Bill would further hamper the work of human rights defenders and public health workers who work with lesbian, gay,bisexual, transgender or intersex people. Front Line Defenders is also concerned that political rhetoric and media coverage could incite further violence against human rights defenders working on LGBTI issues.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Uganda to:

Unconditionally reject the ‘Anti-Homosexuality’ Bill, as it would severely curtail the rights and freedoms of human rights defenders and their legitimate human rights work;
Provide security to those who defend the rights of LGBTI people and those who speak out against the Bill.
Guarantee that all human rights defenders in Uganda are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Standing in solidarity …
Urgent Action Fund-Africa (UAF-Africa) would like to express outrage and dismay at the re-introduction of the anti homosexuality Bill in the Ugandan parliament.

As an African regional organization that supports women’s human rights, we recognize that sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of our selves and should never lead to discrimination, abuse or murder.

We should not make people live in constant fear of losing their jobs, their families, their livelihoods, their freedom, and their lives because they are seen as different from the rest of us. We are of the opinion that this proposed law is inhumane because it violates every aspect of a human being.

UAF-Africa stands in solidarity with all Africans who stand up, raise their voices, and defend the full equality and human rights of all, including LGBTQI people. We call upon the Ugandan parliament to dismiss the Bill when it comes to the floor of the house for debate. The Ugandan government should be cognizant of its responsibility to promote, protect, and respect the human rights of all citizens including putting measures in place that assure everyone of this protection instead of taking away this fundamental human right.

International statements:

Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International