Uganda: One year since the introduction of the anti-homosexuality bill

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)
Monday, October 18, 2010

On 14 October 2009 the draft Anti Homosexuality Bill was introduced to the Parliament of Uganda by Ndoorwa West MP David Bahati. Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill stipulates the death penalty for repeated same-sex relations and life imprisonment for all other homosexual acts.

A person in authority who fails to report an offender to the police within 24 hours will face three years in jail. Likewise, the promotion of homosexuality carries a sentence of five to seven years in jail. This Bill is an expression of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence. The bill abuses the dignity, privacy and equality of people with a different sexual orientation and identity other than heterosexual. If passed into law, it will further legitimize public and private violence, harassment and torture. It has promoted hate speech in churches, schools and the media.

It has led to defamation, blackmail, evictions, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, physical assault, emotional and mental assault of LGBT activists, our families and allies. The bill has further led to increased violence incited by local media, particularly The Red Pepper tabloid and recently launched Rolling Stone newspaper.

The headline of the Rolling Stone viciously screamed ‘100 pictures of Ugandan’s top homos leak - Hang them’. They published pictures, names, residences and other details of LGBT activists and allies. ‘When my neighbors saw my picture in the paper, they were furious. They threw stones at me while I was in my house.

I was so terrified somehow I managed to flee my home to safety.’ said one activist. ‘The sad truth is that most evil in Uganda is done by people who end up never being held accountable for their deeds. The Rolling Stone publication has incited violence against a group of minorities making them seem like less of human beings,’ said another.

The bill constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of privacy, association, assembly and security of the person as enshrined in Uganda’s constitution and international human rights law. The impact of such legal and social exclusion is being felt in the lives of LGBTI Ugandans. Sexual Minorities Uganda strongly condemns such laws and the media witch-hunt of homosexuals.

We would like to acknowledge human rights institutions and activists, local, regional and international civil society, development partners and friends around the world for the enormous support to the Uganda LGBTI community and request for your continued call to African governments to repeal the ‘sodomy laws’.