Uganda anti-gay laws violate human rights

Fight poverty, corruption, malaria and HIV – not gays

New homophobic law is unconstitutional

London, UK – 20 March 2014


To the beat of African drummers and dancers, Ugandan LGBTs and their allies rallied outside the Ugandan High Commission in London yesterday, 19 March, in protest at the new, draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act – one of the world’s harshest anti-gay laws.

Among those in the crowd was Bernard Randall, who faced charges in Uganda last year and whose friend Albert Cheptoyek still faces trial.

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The protest was jointly organised by the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group and Peter Tatchell Foundation, with the support of activists from Nigeria, the RMT union, Amnesty International and the NAZ Project.

“President Museveni should fight poverty, corruption, malaria and HIV – not gays. He should build schools and clinics – not create hatred. Homosexuality is African; homophobia isn’t. It was a colonial import to Uganda. We are urging the repeal of all Uganda’s anti-gay laws – both the new legislation and the old nineteenth century colonial-era criminalisation of homosexuality. I urge the international community to continue funding aid projects in Uganda via organisations that don’t discriminate – and to work with the Ugandan people towards achieving equality for all,” said Edwin Sesange, Director African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group.

Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, added:

“The Anti-Homosexuality Act law violates Article 21 of the Ugandan constitution, the Commonwealth Charter and the African Charter on Human & People’s Rights, to which Uganda is a signatory. It does not even conform to the human rights check list agreed by Ugandan parliamentarians. The law was passed by the parliament without a quorum. When he signed the law, the president justified his decision by distorting the scientific evidence about homosexuality.

“The new legislation extends the current maximum penalty of life imprisonment for anal intercourse to a mandatory life sentence for any same-sex act, even mere kissing and touching with homosexual intent. Attempts to commit any form homosexual contact carry an automatic seven year jail term.

“The legislation also introduces maximum sentences of five to seven years imprisonment for aiding, abetting, counselling or promoting homosexuality, including advocating LGBT rights and funding or assisting LGBT people or events. In addition, there is a compulsory life sentence for anyone who has a same-sex marriage and a maximum penalty of seven years for a person who conducts such a marriage.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Act is part of a wider attack on civil society, including the harassment of opposition activists, detention without trial, torture, extra-judicial killings, restrictions on the media and the suppression of protests and strikes. LGBT and straight Ugandans have a common interest in defending democracy and human rights. We stand with them in solidarity,” added Mr Tatchell.

The protest urged:

  • President Yoweri Museveni and the Ugandan parliament to repeal all anti-gay laws.
  • The Ugandan media to stop the anti-gay witch-hunts that fuel homophobic hate crimes.
  • Ugandan religious and cultural leaders to speak out for LGBTI human rights.
  • The President to uphold all the human rights enshrined in the Ugandan constitution.

Richard Banadda, coordinator of the protest.

“The signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act is one aspect of an increased crackdown on the civil liberties of the Ugandan people, including the public order law, the anti-pornography law and the scrapping of bail for LGBTI people.

“There are already many laws in Uganda against sexual abuse, to protect children and other vulnerable people. This law is an unnecessary duplication of the existing laws.

“The Ugandan government should work towards building partnerships with other countries that respect human rights, instead of isolating itself with laws that violate international humanitarian statutes.

“This law is scaring away foreign investors, expatriates, tourists and aid donors. It also diverts attention from the main problems affecting Uganda, such as poverty and under-resourced medical and educational facilities.

“The prejudiced language the President has used about LGBTI people has re-enforced and stirred negative, homophobic opinions,” said Mr Banadda.

George Dhabangi, a trustee of African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, added:

“This law is a blackmailer’s charter. It is likely to be used against political opponents, as recently happened in Malaysia where the opposition leader was prosecuted on charges of homosexuality. I call upon all Ugandans to challenge this law.”