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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


Urgent appeal 

2483. On 30 April 2009, the Special Rapporteur, together with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, sent an urgent appeal regarding the physical attacks against Mr. David Kato and Mr. Julian “Pepe” Onziema, both members of Sexual Minorities Uganda  (SMUG) and the media campaign against human rights defenders who work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights organisations, including the Chairperson of SMUG, Mr. Frank Mugisha. SMUG is a coalition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) human rights organizations that advocates on behalf of Uganda’s LGBTI people and on HIV/AIDS issues in Uganda. The Special Rapporteur and the then Special Representative on the protection of human rights defenders previously sent communications concerning SMUG on 12 August 2008 and 30 November 2007 respectively.

2484. According to the information received, on 19 April 2009, the newspaper Sunday Pepper published an article, self-described as a ‘killer dossier’, listing the names of several human rights defenders and other LGBTI people. The article contained pictures, names, physical descriptions, details about their profession and residence, and negative stereotyping and accusations of  “spreading the gay and lesbian vice in schools”. As it had announced, the Sunday Pepper published a follow up report on 26 April containing new names of LGBTI people as well as pictures of SMUG members including the Chairperson of SMUG, Mr. Frank Mugisha.

2485. On 23 April, the Family Life Network (FLN) presented a public petition to the Ugandan Parliament requesting new laws providing harsher punishment for homosexuality. The FLN has taken the lead in organising an anti-LGBT campaign and fomenting anti-LGBTI sentiments. This campaign, which TV, radio and printed media echoed, is fostering a climate of strong hostility and is encouraging attacks against LGBTI defenders.

2486. On 12 April, Mr. David Kato and Mr. Julian “Pepe” Onziema, whose names and pictures were published on several occasions in the media, were physically attacked in two separate incidents in Kampala.

2487. According to reports received, the Ugandan authorities are allegedly contributing to the climate of hostility against LGBTI defenders through repeated defamatory statements both to the media and Parliament. On 2 April, the Government owned newspaper New Vision reported comments made by Minister of Ethics and Integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, who stated that defenders working on sexual orientation and gender identity, being self-confessed LGBTI people, should be investigated and punished.

2488. LGBTI defenders have reportedly been the subject of an increased level of harassment and threats in recent weeks including death threats. It is feared that such a smear campaign will further incite hatred and violence against human rights defenders and members of the LGBTI community.

2489. Concern was expressed that the physical attacks on Mr. David Kato and Mr. Julian  “Pepe” Onziema and the media harassment of Mr. Frank Mugisha and other members of the LGBTI community might be related to their peaceful activities in defence of LGBTI rights.

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