Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) Condemn the Proposed Anti-homosexuality Bill
Last year GlobalGayz visited Uganda and met several of the LGBT activists involved in SMUG and other rights organizations. Their story is one of persecution, clandestine living, arrests and police abuse. Just before and after my visit members were harassed by authorities and roughed up for their non-violent activity–including unfurling a banner at an HIV conference where there was no mention of MSM as a high-risk group. (Read the story here.)
This highly discriminatory bill, described here, was at that time being rumored about but had not yet been fully composed. Now it is here in its pernicious violating form and is being urged upon Parliament by right-wing religiously-fed legislators who simply hate any idea about about homosexuality–never mind how much it violates the country’s constitutional guarantees of expression, conscience, association, and assembly. The bill in itself is a criminal document.
SMUG has sent out letters requesting support against the bill. Please read the following message and take some action. Inaction allows evil-doers to thrive.
From Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG):
As a network of human rights activists, working in the areas of sexual rights as well as other human rights issues, SMUG urges you to oppose a repressive bill whichwas tabled in Parliament of Uganda on 14th October 2009.
This bill is a blow to the steady progress of democracy in Uganda. It proposes criminalization of advocacy and support for the rights of homosexual Ugandans.It also prohibits any public discussion or expression of gay and lesbian lives and any organizing around sexual orientation. (Image right: Ugandan Coat of Arms)
In doing so, it violates the basic rights to freedom of expression, conscience, association, and assembly, as well as internationally recognized protections against discrimination.The proposed bill intention is to divide and discriminate against the Ugandan homosexual population, and exclude them from participation in public life, which goes against the inclusive spirit necessary for our economic as well as political development. Its spirit is profoundly undemocratic and un-African.
Over the recent months increased campaigns of violence have gone uncontrolled. The violence directed at Homosexual Ugandans has resulted in the unwarranted arrests of many people; there are eight ongoing cases in various courts all over Uganda of which four accused persons are unable to meet the harsh bail conditions set against them.These acts of violence have now resulted in the deaths of several homosexual people, such as Brian Pande at Mbale Hospital as he awaited trial. This bill aggravates stigma and hatred; and renders all promised protections enshrined in the constitution for all Ugandan citizens void.
Religious leaders and policy makers have also exhibited very hostile attitudes towards otherwise peace keeping homosexual Ugandans by publicizing slanderous and hateful messages in the media, creating serious security concerns for the lives of SMUG network members.
Uganda has repeatedly pledged to defend these fundamental freedoms in the Constitution; it has also signed treaties binding it to respect international human rights law and standards, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. As part of the community of nations forming sexual minorities we urge Ugandan parliamentarians and government to continue to respect these principles and reject this bill, which establishes a new and totally undemocratic level of policing private life. SMUG condemns both of these positions as undemocratic and unacceptable.
These positions will further set a dangerous precedent and send a signal that any Ugandan’s privacy is unguaranteed -that all of our civil society could be put under attack. If this bill is passed into law, it will clearly endanger the work of all human rights defenders and members of civil society in Uganda.
This proposed legislation violates Uganda’s most basic obligations to the rights, and well-being, of its people. By signing international treaties and entering the international community, the Ugandan government has undertaken the obligation to promote and protect the human rights of its population, without discrimination on any grounds. As the Sexual Minorities in Uganda, we urge you to act on that obligation, and to further the growth of our democracy.
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)
P.O. Box 70208, Clock Tower
Telephone: +256 312 294 859