The ICJ condemns the reintroduction of Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the Ugandan Parliament. The bill has passed out of committee and is expected to come to a floor vote in early December.
According to reports from civil society organizations in Uganda, the bill still contains the death penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality.”
In addition, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill criminalizes the promotion of homosexuality, which is defined to include all advocacy activities.
“Adopting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would be a serious threat to the human rights and human dignity of LGBT individuals and organizations,” said Alli Jernow, Senior Legal Adviser at the ICJ. “Under the Bill, not only might someone face life in prison or the death penalty for being gay, but human rights defenders would also be prevented from speaking out to challenge the law.”
Under the Bill, anyone in authority, such as a teacher or medical professional, who fails to report an offence to law enforcement within twenty-four hours, is liable to three years’ imprisonment.
The ICJ says the bill is dangerous and deadly and urges Parliament to reject it.
Parliament must also reaffirm the rights to non-discrimination, privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association for all Ugandans, the ICJ adds.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill has already been used to justify a general clampdown on civil society in Uganda.
Meetings and workshops have been disrupted and advocacy groups working on human rights have been threatened.
In February 2012, the Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, shut down a capacity-building session for LGBT activists organized by Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) at a hotel in Entebbe and threatened to arrest FARUG’s executive director Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera (picture above).
In June 2012, police raided a workshop for East African LGBT human rights defenders that had been organized by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and they detained participants for several hours.
Minister Lokodo also told the press that he was going to ban 38 organizations that were “sympathetic to LGBT people.”
“If adopted, the bill would clearly violate the human rights of all Ugandans,” Jernow added.
International human rights law, including treaties to which Uganda is a party, prohibit the criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct and forbid the imposition of the death penalty for non-violent conduct, including sexual relations between consenting adults.
International human rights law also guarantees the right of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
Alli Jernow, ICJ Senior Legal Advisor, t + 41 22 979 3823 ; e-mail: alison.jernow(at)icj.org