#16Days: AWID Condemns Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) strongly condemns the repeated efforts, now for the third time, to introduce the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda’s Parliament. We stand in solidarity with Ugandans who are calling for their government to withdraw this bill, once and for all, and respect the human rights of everyone.

The latest introduction of the bill, on November 21, 2012 could see the bill discussed and passed before the middle of December 2012. If passed, the bill would represent a grave assault on the human rights of all Ugandans, and in particular, would further sanction discrimination against those who are, or who are believed to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex (LGBTI). Furthermore, repeated efforts to pass this bill contribute to an environment that heightens stigma, discrimination, and violence targeted towards the LGBTI community, their family, friends, and supporters.

We stand in solidarity with the Ugandan LGBTI community and the tremendous pan-African response against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, including from African LGBTI organizations, feminist, women’s rights and human rights organizations, the HIV and AIDS sector, and religious leaders. As an international women’s rights organization led by and engaging a majority constituency in the global South, we also note that the struggle for human rights for all including LGBTI people is universal. Countries in the global South such as Brazil, India, and South Africa have all taken leadership in the past two decades in legal and policy reform to support and respect LGBTI people’s rights. We urge the government of Uganda to do the same and take positive action in rejecting this bill and in protecting human rights for all.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill seeks to introduce draconian provisions reinforcing Uganda’s existing prohibitions on consensual same-sex relations. According to some reports, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee appears to have removed the death penalty from the original draft of the bill. Not withstanding these or any other changes, we condemn the bill in its entirety, as well as existing measures which seek to criminalise, stigmatise, persecute, and punish people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

AWID’s research on religious fundamentalisms clearly demonstrates that across regions and religions, sexual orientation and gender identity are lightning rods for fundamentalist forces. As in the case of Uganda, those who do not fit rigid norms as defined by fundamentalists are seen as threatening the social fabric, notions of ‘morality’ and the ‘family’- discourses that are often deployed by such actors to harness power. Although couched in the discourse of protecting family, children, and traditional values, this bill in fact spreads hatred and violence. Far from being about authentic cultural values, the bill has been strongly influenced by resources and hate-speech by Christian Right groups from the United States.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill not only violates multiple protections guaranteed by the Constitution of Uganda, but also contravenes the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, theInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party. The bill also seriously contradicts the strong call made in theJoint Statement to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2011, signed by 84 member states (including Nigeria, the Central African Republic, South Africa, and Rwanda), which called for states to take steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions, and related human rights violations against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

AWID stands in solidarity with the people of Uganda who are fighting for human rights and justice. We believe that full respect for sexual rights is part of guaranteeing human rights for all, and we therefore call upon the government of Uganda to immediately withdraw the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and uphold the universality of human rights.

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