Ugandan President must veto draconian 'anti-homosexuality' law

20.12.2013

A draconian 'anti-homosexuality' bill passed by the Ugandan parliament flagrantly violates international law and should be vetoed by the Ugandan President.

(Geneva) - A draconian 'anti-homosexuality' bill passed by the Ugandan parliament flagrantly violates international law and should be vetoed by the Ugandan President, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

'The Anti-Homosexuality Bill would have wide-ranging and devastating impacts on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. It must not be signed into law,' said ISHR Director Phil Lynch. 

The Bill criminalises a wide range of activities that are expressly protected by international law, including same-sex relations and the 'promotion of homosexuality'. Entry into a same-sex marriage is punishable by life imprisonment.

'This Bill is manifestly incompatible with international human rights law, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill is also clearly incompatible with the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, all of which are fundamental pillars of a safe, secure and democratic society,' Mr Lynch said.

ISHR is particularly concerned that, if allowed to stand, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will lead to an increase in homophobic violence, discrimination and harassment. A recent report released by the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) and African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) documented numerous cases of physical violence against LGBT human rights defenders across Africa, including arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, extortion and even killings. 

‘Bills such as this serve to stigmatise same-sex relations and increase the incidence of homophobic violence and harassment,’ Mr Lynch said.

In a separate statement, Amnesty International's Deputy Africa Director, Aster van Kregten, said, 'This bill will institutionalise discrimination, hatred and prejudice in law against lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and intersex Ugandans, who are already marginalised.'

ISHR is also deeply concerned at the Bill's provisions relating to the 'promotion' of homosexuality.

‘In addition to targeting same-sex relations, the bill targets human rights defenders who take a take stand for equality and against discrimination, effectively criminalising their work,’ Mr Lynch said.

‘Human rights defenders play a crucial role in advocating for the acceptance of human rights and freedoms, and attempts to silence their voices amount to attacks on the very foundations of a democratic and inclusive society.’

ISHR urges Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to urgently veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Contact: Phil Lynch, Director, International Service for Human Rights, on + 41 76 708 4738 or p.lynch@ishr.ch