Mongezi Mhlongo (BTM Senior Reporter)
UGANDA- 23 October 2009: Following the tabling of the Anti-Homosexual Bill in the Ugandan parliament, a new Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law has been formed, set to respond to the draconian bill which, according to the coalition undermines basic human rights and the Constitution of Uganda.
Comprising of more than 25 civil society organisations working in various sectors in Uganda, the coalition has taken a staunch opposition to the proposed Anti-Homosexuality bill currently before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.
Explaining reasons why the Coalition was formed, Frank Mugisha, Chairperson, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) said, to head the campaign opposing the bill successfully, voices from various sectors are needed for the campaign to be a success.
“In the past we would take up campaigns on our own and we would be accused of being immoral amongst other things, by actually having other human rights defenders, lawyers etc, the campaign will be much stronger and it will go a long way.”
In a statement issued today, members of the newly formed Coalition highlighted that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill does not only target homosexuals but every Uganda citizen, dubbing it an Anti-Human Rights Bill.
The statement further pointed out that the bill contradicts eight fundamental human rights protections afforded to Ugandans and enshrined in the Constitution of Uganda.
Namely, Fundamental rights and freedoms are inherent and not granted by State (Article 20), Right to Equality and Freedom from discrimination (Article 21), The Right to Life –the death penalty provisions (Article 22), The rights to Privacy (Article 27), Right to freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association-including freedom of speech, Academic freedom and media freedom (Article 29), Right to Education (Article 30), Affirmative Action in favor of marginalized groups (Article 32), Right of Minorities (Article 36).
Furthermore, “If passed this law would not only prove difficult to implement, it would also consume resources and attention which would be better directed at more pressing issues of human rights abuse, corruption, electoral reform, domestic relations and freedoms of the press”, cautioned the statement.
Mugisha lauded that the member’s civil society organisation adding that they have played a vital role in the campaign.
“They have been helpful in spreading the word in their networks and organisations sensitizing them about LGBTI issues and the Anti –Homosexual bill.”
Member organisations of the coalition are the following, African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), Advocates for Public International Law in Uganda (APILU), Center for Land Economy and Rights of Women (CLEAR-Uganda), Centre for Women in Governance (CEWIGO), Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA),East & Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-U), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Human Rights Awareness & Promotion Forum, Human Rights & Peace Centre (HURIPEC), Faculty of Law, Makerere University, Integrity Uganda, International Refugee Rights Initiative, Mentoring and Empowerment Programme for Young Women (MEMPROW), MIFUMI Project, National Association of Women’s Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU), National Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (NACWOLA), Refugee Law Project (RLP), Faculty of Law, Makerere University, National Guidance & Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NGEN+), Spectrum Uganda, Uganda Feminist Forum, Women’s Organisation & Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA)