4 November 2009
The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) today condemned a proposal in Uganda to impose the death penalty for 'aggravated homosexuality' in the Anti Homosexuality Bill which was recently introduced into the Ugandan Parliament.
Under the Bill, 'aggravated homosexuality' is deemed to exist when a homosexual act occurs with disabled persons, persons below the age of 18 or when one of the parties is HIV-positive.
'Uganda's Penal Code already contains 15 capital offences and there are 637 prisoners on death row', said IBAHRI Co-Chair Martin Solc. 'This Bill adds sexual activity to that list.'
'Uganda is a party to the African Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,' said Justice Richard Goldstone, Co-Chair IBAHRI. 'The Covenant stipulates that the death penalty may only be imposed for the most serious of crimes. Under United Nations resolutions, countries which retain the death penalty should introduce a moratorium on its use. This Bill is against that clear international trend,' Justice Goldstone added.
The Bill is contrary to international law, regional law in Africa, the Ugandan Constitution and Uganda High Court rulings.
Dr Phillip Tahmindjis, Deputy Director of IBAHRI, said: 'This Bill is an attack on human dignity at several levels. It provides life imprisonment for homosexuality and seven years imprisonment for 'promoters' of homosexuality, such as publishers. The Ugandan Constitution provides for equality, privacy, freedom of speech and freedom from discrimination, and a Uganda High Court decision last December held that these rights apply to all people regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.'
'The provisions of international and regional human rights law, together with the Ugandan Constitution and these High Court rulings have been ignored by this Bill', Dr Tahmindjis said. 'Offences for "aggravated" behaviour are already adequately covered by the Ugandan Penal Code. The Bill is really an attack on sexuality rather than a protection for the vulnerable. Its name – the Anti Homosexuality Bill – indicates its real intention,' he added.