Uganda: Anti-Homosexuality signed into Law / Yoweri Museveni fails to protect citizens from discrimination, stigmatization and risks of violence
PARIS, France, February 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- FIDH firmly condemns the “Anti-homosexuality” law promulgated yesterday by President Museveni as it blatantly violates a wide range of human rights principles and risks fuelling hatred against a category of the Ugandan population.
Homosexuality was already severely criminalised in Uganda. But this new legislation further criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults, by notably imposing sentences of life imprisonment for homosexuality, same-sex marriage or “aggravated homosexuality”.
The law also provides for prison sentences for the "promotion of", the “conspiracy to engage in” homosexuality and for any “person in authority” who fails to report an act of homosexuality within 24 hours. These new provisions put civil society activists as well as organisations providing health, social and legal services to LGBTI people in situations of vulnerability at risk of criminal prosecution, and constitute clear infringements to universally recognised public freedoms, particularly the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. The new law also seriously undermines the capacity of human rights defenders and NGOS to promote and protect health and sexual rights, and fight against discrimination.
“The enacting of this Anti-Homosexuality Law is unacceptable”, declared Dan Van Raemdonck, FIDH Secretary General. “In addition of institutionalizing discrimination and encouraging harassment and violence against LGBTI people, this law represents a major step backward for all Ugandans in terms of protection of their fundamental rights and freedoms ”, he added.
The Anti-homosexuality law not only contravenes the Ugandan Constitution, – which provides for equality and freedom from discrimination – but also goes against the country'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.
“The enactment of such a law by Museveni implies that the Ugandan authorities condone discrimination based on sexual orientation and its consequences. In a socio-political environment where LGBTI and those defending their rights already experience serious threats to their security, this promulgation is not the sign of political courage but rather of irresponsibilty”, declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.
The negative consequences of the enactment of the « Anti-homosexuality » law are already being felt in Kampala. Today, 25 February 2014, a local tabloid published a front-page article entitled « Exposed ! », in which the names of 200 individuals considered as homosexuals are listed with their pictures. This campaign is reminiscent of another incident which occurred in 2010-2011, with the publication by the newspaper Rolling Stone on its front-page of an article, under the head line « Hang them ! », providing the names, pictures and addresses of several people accused to be homosexuals. On 26 January 2011, David Kato, a LGBTI human rights defender who was among those listed, was brutally beaten to death at his home.
FIDH expresses its strong concern and support for all organisations defending the rights of LGBTI people in Uganda. It calls on the authorities to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all the people whose names and pictures were published in the tabloid, and more generally of all human rights defenders, including LGBTI human rights defenders. FIDH calls the national authorities to immediately abide by their national, regional and international commitments by repealing this discriminatory law.