(New York, 6 May 2011) The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned at reports that the now infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda may be passed by that country's Parliament. The Bill, first introduced in October 2009, was ostensibly "shelved" by Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni following an international outcry. However, public hearings on the Bill took place today in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. The remaining stages of the legislative process – namely second and third readings of the bill and presidential adoption – could be completed within the remaining week of the current parliamentary session.
"We are shocked that after more than 2 years of engagement with the government of Uganda about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, this heinous piece of legislation may still become law," said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Executive Director. "Governments, world religious and political leaders, and HIV prevention experts have all appealed to Ugandan parliamentarians to put their distaste and fear of LGBT people aside and use their better judgment for the good of the country."
The Bill reaffirms existing penalties for consensual same-sex relationships, and criminalizes the "promotion of homosexuality" and failure to report homosexual activity. The Parliamentary Committee itself has said that the provisions of the Bill are redundant and unnecessary. Most controversially, the Bill would punish "aggravated homosexuality" – including activity by "serial offenders" or those who are HIV positive – with the death penalty. To IGLHRC's knowledge, the provisions related to the death penalty remain part of the Bill, despite statements by the Bill's author that these would be removed. The Bill not only violates multiple protections guaranteed by the Constitution of Uganda, but also contravenes the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ICCPR), and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party.
"There can be no reason to pass this Bill other than to take the attention of Ugandans – and the rest of the world – away from the fact that Uganda is slipping into political chaos," stated Johnson. "Clearly the issue of homosexuality is being used to deflect attention from the crackdown on democracy and freedom of speechthat has led to at least 5 deaths, more than 100 injuries, and hundreds of arrests in the last month. IGLHRC stands firm with all the people of Uganda as they struggle to maintain their freedom and dignity."