Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion: Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received, A/HRC/14/23/Add.1, 1 June 2010: Uganda
Letter of allegations
2508. On 23 December 2009, the Special Rapporteur, together with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, sent a letter of allegations to the Government concerning a legislative bill pending before the Ugandan legislature, Bill N° 18 of 2009.
2509. According to the information received, the Parliament of Uganda is considering Bill No 18 (also known as the Anti-homosexuality Bill) tabled before it on 15 October 2009. The proposed bill would allegedly increase penalties for homosexual conduct and criminalize many related activities. Consensual homosexual conduct is already a criminal offence under article 145 sub a) of the criminal code, which penalizes “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature”. However, Bill N° 8 would purportedly expand the reach of this existing provision by including “any person who touches another person with the intention of committing an act of homosexuality”. It was also noted that the bill also punishes ‘aggravated homosexuality’, including activity by ‘serial offenders’ or those who are living with HIV, with the death penalty.
2510. Furthermore, the Bill punishes any form of ‘promotion of homosexuality’ with imprisonment of five to seven years, which allegedly would criminalize the work of civil society actors and human rights defenders addressing issues of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Bill specifies that this includes anyone who publishes or disseminates ‘homosexual materials’, ‘funds or sponsors homosexuality and related activities’, ‘uses electronic devices which include internet, films and mobile phone’ or ‘who acts as an accomplice or attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices’. The Bill also criminalizes failure to report any offences within its scope, compelling citizens to report to the authorities anyone whom they suspect of being homosexual.
2511. According to information received, the Bill will prohibit any kind of community or political organizing around non-hetero-normative sexuality. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and allegedly, implicitly encourages the persecution of sexual minorities by private actors. HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to speak frankly about sexuality and health and to provide condoms and other safer sex materials, will be compromised. Women, sex workers, people living with HIV, and other marginalized groups may also find their activities tracked and criminalized through this Bill.
2512. The Special Rapporteur regrets that at the time of finalizing the present report, the Government had not transmitted a single reply to his communications. He considers response to his communications an important part of the cooperation of Governments with her mandate. He urges the Government to respond to the concerns raised by him, and provide detailed information regarding investigations undertaken to prosecute the perpetrators as well as protective measures taken.
Link to full text of the report: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.23.Add.1_AV.pdf