Friday, October 16, 2009

Sexual Minorities Uganda Condemn the tabled anti-homosexuality bill

As a network of human rights activists, working in the areas of sexual
rights as well as other human rights issues, we write to urge you to
oppose a repressive bill which was 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. 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

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. Kindly vote against this bill.

Sexual Minorities Uganda - SMUG
Sexual Minorities Uganda - SMUG is a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and intersex people’s organizations based in Uganda.

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