PARIS, France, February 11, 2014 – As organisations in Uganda mark a Global Day of Action against the “Anti Homosexuality Bill”, FIDH expresses its strong support to all organisations defending the rights of LGBTI persons and calls on President Yoweri Museveni not to enact this discriminatory Bill.
The “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” aims to introduce provisions into the Ugandan Penal Code to further criminalise homosexual relations. It was was passed by the Ugandan Parliament on 20 December 2013 but has not yet been enacted into law by the President. The Bill provides for life imprisonment for same sex relations and criminalizes the “promotion” of homosexuality, punishable by imprisonment. This provision puts civil society activists as well as organisations providing health and social services to LGBTI people at risk of criminal prosecution. “This bill not only discriminates against a group of individuals because of their sexual orientation, but will also prevent human rights organisations from defending their rights”, declared Dan Van Raemdonck, FIDH Secretary General.
“This is purely a matter of equality. People should not face criminal charges for being who they are”, said Sheila Muwanga Nabachwa, FIDH Vice-President. “The Ugandan authorities must respect their national and international commitments to upholding equal rights and fighting discrimination”, she added.
FIDH underlines that the passage of the Bill did not respect the required conditions for the approval of legislation at the parliamentary stage. The Bill was passed without a quorum. Its passage should therefore be considered null and void.
The “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” was first presented to the Ugandan Parliament in October 2009. At that time, the mobilisation of civil society organisations as well as international governments and institutions contributed to halting the bill’s passage and it was set aside for over two years. In February 2012, it was reintroduced to the Ugandan Parliament.
Existing legislation already contains provisions criminalising same sex relations. The Ugandan Penal Code provides for up to life sentence for anyone convicted for “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” (Penal Code Act Chap 120 and Penal Code Amendment – Gender References – Act, 2000). The “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” would significantly broaden this criminalization and contribute to increasing arbitrary arrests and detention, physical and psychological violence by state and non-state actors and further marginalisation.
FIDH stresses that existing laws and the proposed Bill contravene the Ugandan Constitution – which provides for equality and freedom from discrimination – and Uganda’s international and regional human rights obligations, including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
SOURCE: International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)