The anti-homosexuality bill has been adjourned indefinitely in Ugandan parliament today (13 May 2011). There is no fixed date for its return, but please bookmark this page and sign up to the Alliance e-newsletter to stay informed.
Thank you to those of you who have already signed Avaaz petition which is still open so you can add your name to support the campaign.
The proposed anti-homosexuality bill could have seriously violated the human rights of sexual minorities in Uganda. It stated that if the accused person was HIV positive or a serial offender, or a “person of authority” over the other partner, or if the “victim” was under 18, a conviction could result in the death penalty. It also included the obligation for members of the public to report any homosexual activity to the police.
The Constitution of Uganda provides for the protection and promotion of fundamental and other human rights and freedoms. Among others, it guarantees the rights to equality and freedom from discrimination, the right to life, the right to privacy, and the rights of minorities.
However, under current legislation, “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” is classified among “unnatural offences” and is punishable with life imprisonment. Attempt to commit “unnatural offences” is liable to seven years imprisonment. The proposed bill contained even harsher penalties.
The introduction of the bill has left a legacy of hatred and intimidation against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) population. According to the organisation Sexual Minorities Uganda, more than 20 LGBT people have been attacked over the past year, and an additional 17 have been arrested and are in prison. Those numbers are up from the same period two years ago, when about 10 LGBT people were reportedly attacked.
Uganda’s HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill is also due to be debated today in parliament. This bill also has the potential to violate human rights and its provision to criminalise attempted transmission of HIV could prove highly problematic for control of the epidemic.
In June, world leaders will be meeting for the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS to commemorate 30 years of the HIV epidemic and commit to the vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths. It is important that the Ugandan government does not pass these bills in order to protect the right to non-discrimination for all people affected by HIV and to help prevent the spread of the epidemic.