Johannesburg – South Africa
10 February 2014
The Coalition of Africa Lesbians (CAL) and its allies condemn in the strongest terms the Ugandan parliament for passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB). It is the responsibility of the Ugandan government to respect, promote, protect and fulfil all human rights of all people. The passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill went ahead without quorum and in the absence of prior mandatory inclusion on the Parliament Order Paper.
The combination of the historical failure of the Ugandan government to respect, protect and promote human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression and the news of the passing of this Bill has had the effect of aggravating the human rights situation of people who are gender non-conforming and those who engage in same sex relations. Already, reports indicate that since the passing of the Bill, there have been increased levels of violation and abuse of the rights of people who are gender non-conforming and those who engage in same sex relations in Uganda. If the President signs this Bill into law, the gains achieved towards the HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, access to health services and doctor-patient confidentiality, will all be eroded and eventually lost as people affected by the legislation will not seek services for fear of prosecution.
After the passing of the Bill, it was sent to President Museveni for signature, which would bring the Bill into force as an Act of Parliament.
Should the President sign the Bill, far reaching and wide ranging oppressions of many Ugandans will be legitimized:
• The prohibition of consensual same sex acts between adults with a prescription of a penalty of life imprisonment for so-called repeat offenders
• A requirement that “persons in authority, including persons exercising religious or social authority, report offenses under the Act within twenty four hours or else face imprisonment for three years or a fine.”
Essentially, the Bill violates the rights of an already marginalized group as well as curtailing the rights of those who defend human rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
Just one day before the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed, the Ugandan parliament passed the controversial Anti-Pornography Bill purportedly as a means of curbing sexual crimes against women and children including rape, child molestation and incest. Instead, the law introduces serious constraints on the autonomy of women over their bodies and lives – outlaws particular forms of dress that are seen to encourage sexual excitement or any indecent act or behaviour tending to corrupt morals, among other things.
The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) urges President Museveni not to sign both bills and to act in accordance with the responsibility to protect all human rights of all people in keeping with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which Uganda is party to. We further draw the attention of the President to the Statement by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Mrs Reine Alapini-Gansou, where she warns in a statement issued on 5 February 2014, in reference to the recently passed Nigerian Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, about the consequences laws such as these may have on sexual minorities who are already vulnerable as a result of social prejudice.
We further urge all states, the Ugandan National Human Rights Institution and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to
1. Condemn the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of Uganda and the Anti-Pornography Bills
2. Call for the immediate scrapping of the Bills
3. Persuade the Ugandan President and government to establish and sustain a constructive human rights dialogue with groups of people affected by the legislation and who are gender non-conforming and those who engage in same sex relations and all women.
The Coalition of African Lesbians also calls on all artists, leaders and human rights defenders in Africa to publically denounce both Ugandan laws, the Nigerian law and any other national legislation along these lines.
For more information, please contact Dawn Cavanagh
Landline: +27-11-403 0004/7/114/158
Cell: 071 104 1718
Issued on behalf of Forum for the Empowerment of Women, Wits Youth Group, Uthingo, Vutha LGBT, Ekhuruleni Pride Organising Committee, Thusa Tshireletso, Trendsetters, Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, Johannesburg People’s Pride, the One in Nine Campaign and the 30 organisational members of the Coalition of African Lesbians in 19 countries in Africa.
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;