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Religious Tolerance logo

Proposed genocidal law targeting GLB persons in Uganda

Responses to the proposed legislation: 2009

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"GLB" is an acronym referring to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. More commonly, the letter "T" is added to
refer to transgender persons and transsexuals. Sometimes "I" is added to refer to intersexual persons.

Responses to the proposed legislation:

bulletA coalition of 17 local and international human and GLBT rights organizations and one religious group protested the proposed law. Included among the sponsors of the protest were:

Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA); Amnesty International; ARC International; Article 19; Center for Women's Global Leadership; COC Netherlands; Committee for the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia; Egale Canada; Human Rights Watch; International Commission of Jurists; International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (Front Line); International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC); LAMBDA Mozambique; Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL); Uganda Feminist Forum (UFF); the Unitarian Universalist Church, United Nations Office; and the World AIDS Campaign] issued a statement saying that the bill would promote discrimination and criminalize the activities of those advocating human rights. 

It is worth noting that no national Baha'i group, no Christian faith group, no Muslim tradition, and only one religious group -- the Unitarian Universalists -- was sufficiently concerned about the genocide of GLBTs to sign onto this statement. 1

bullet Scott Long, the director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, said: "This draft bill is clearly an attempt to divide and weaken civil society by striking at one of its most marginalizes groups." 2

bulletDavid Kato of Sexual Minorities Uganda said: "This bill is a blow to the progress of democracy in Uganda. It goes against the inclusive spirit necessary for our economic as well as political development. Its spirit is profoundly undemocratic and un-African."
 
bulletKate Sheill of Amnesty International said: "Certain provisions in this bill are illegal; they are also immoral. They criminalize a sector of society for being who they are, when what the government should be doing instead is protecting them from discrimination and abuse."
 
bulletThe British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC] posted a discussion on their "Africa Have Your Say" web site about the proposed law. It was originally titled "Should homosexuals face execution?;" this was later changed to "Should Uganda debate gay execution?" A number of British politicians said that the BBC's discussion should not have been posted.:
 
bulletLawmaker Eric Joyce of the ruling Labour Party said: "We should be looking at what is going on in Uganda with abhorrence. We should be condemning it, and the BBC should be condemning it. ... Instead it seems to have thought it appropriate to come up with something that suggests it's a subject for discussion."
 
bulletLynne Featherstone, a lawmaker from the opposition Liberal Democrats, said she has written to BBC executives seeking an apology and an end to the Web discussion. She said: "Suggesting that the state-sponsored murder of gay people is OK as a legitimate topic for debate is deeply offensive."

The forum attracted more than 600 comments and triggered a lively Twitter discussion. However, only 200 comments were judged to be suitable for publishing. By DEC-17, it became the most popular forum on the BBC's website. Some posts argued whether the question should be considered for discussion; others agreed that sexually active homosexuals should be executed. Some of the latter were:

bulletChris: "Totally agree. Ought to be imposed in the UK too, asap. Bring back some respectable family values. Why do we have to suffer 'gay pride' festivals? Would I be allowed to organize a 'straight pride' festival? No, thought as much!! If homosexuality is natural, as we are forced to believe, how can they sustain the species? I suggest all gays are put on a remote island and left for a generation ? after which, theoretically there should be none left!"
 
bulletAaron: "Bravo to the Ugandans for this wise decision, a bright step in eliminating this menace from your society. We hope other African nations will also follow your bold step."

David Stead, program editor of BBC's World Service Africa said that editors had:

"... thought long and hard about using this question. ... We agree that it is a stark and challenging question, but think that it accurately focuses on and illustrates the real issue at stake. ... This issue has already sparked much debate around the world and understandably led to us receiving many e-mails and texts. We have sought to moderate these rigorously while trying to reflect the varied and hugely diverse views about homosexuality in Africa." 3,4

bulletDavid Cato became a gay-rights activist in Uganda after he was beaten up four times, arrested twice, fired from this teaching job and outed in the press as a gay person. He commented on the widespread belief that the Ugandan bill is a backlash to the increased presence of gays seeking equality. He said: "It's a question of visibility. When we come out and ask for our rights, they pass laws against us." 4

bullet

The Ugandan ethics minister indicated that the death sentence may be modified to a long prison term as the bill is debated in Parliament. He believes that the bill is needed because of foreign influence. He said that homosexuality is "not natural in Uganda." 4
 

bullet

John Muwanguzi, a shopkeeper, is more moderate. He said:

"I feel that the bill is good and necessary, but I don't think gays should be killed. They should be imprisoned for about a year and warned never to do it again. The family is in danger in Uganda because the rate at which vice is spreading is appalling." 4

bullet

The European Parliament called on the Uganda government to " not ... approve the bill and to review their laws so as to decriminalize homosexuality." They noted that same-sex sexual behavior is legal in only 13 countries in Africa and is a punishable offence in 38 others. They expressed concern that the proposed Ugandan law could have a domino effect on other nations "...where persons are or could be persecuted because of their sexual orientation."

Catherine Hankins, the chief scientific advisor for UNAIDS -- the Jiint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS -- said: "Criminalizing adult consensual sex is not only a human rights issue, it goes against a good HIV strategy."

The Uganda bill was also criticized by the governments of Canada, France, the United States and other countries.

Ugandan lawmaker David Bahati, supports the bill. He said that: "homosexuality is not a human right. ... The fact that the moral fabric of America and Europe has been put under siege by the supporters of this creeping evil of homosexuality should not suggest that we follow suit." 5

bullet

The American assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Jonnie Carson, said on 2009-DEC-18 that he had twice urged the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, "... to do everything he can to stop this particular legislation." Carson said that if the bill were passed, it would not only violate human rights, it would also "undermine the fight" against HIV and AIDS by stigmatizing homosexual acts. Under Ugandan law, he has the power to veto any bill passed by the government. 6

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Uganda: 'Anti-Homosexuality' Bill Threatens Liberties and Human Rights Defenders," Human Rights Watch, 2009-OCT-15, at: http://www.hrw.org/
  2. Evelyn Lirri, "Homosexuality bill rejected," AllAfrica.com, 2009-OCT-21, at: http://allafrica.com/
  3. "BBC Slammed For Debating Ugandan Bill To Kill Gays," Huffington Post, 2009-DEC-16, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  4. Jack Malvern, "BBC condemned for hosting web debate on execution for gays in Uganda," Times Online, London (UK), 2009-DEC-17, at: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/
  5. "EU slams Uganda's anti-gay law," News 24, 2009-DEC-18, at: http://www.news24.com/
  6. "Block anti-gay bill, US urges ," News 24, 2009-DEC-19, at: http://www.news24.com/

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Laws > Ugandan bill > here

Copyright © 2009 & 2010 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-NOV-18
Latest update and review: 2010-MAY-03
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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