Help Avaaz stop Uganda’s anti-gay law
The ninth Parliament of Uganda recently passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, which punishes Ugandans charged with “aggravated homosexuality” with life imprisonment. Though the bill has yet to be signed into law by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, its implications have grave consequences for the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community.
Consequences of the law
Not only does the legislation imprison individuals accused of homosexuality, individuals can also be charged who ‘knew’ or ‘advocated’ on behalf of homosexual conduct and did not report it to authorities, which creates a new risk of fear of punishment by association.
Uganda already has so-called sodomy laws, inherited from the British colonial era, that criminalise same-sex acts.
“People get arrested but no one has ever been convicted. It’s difficult to enforce.” -Frank Mugisha, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)
The new anti-homosexuality bill extends the punishments available to life imprisonment and creates additional crimes, with up to seven years in jail, for those convicted of advocating or supporting gay rights.
“I’m openly gay. I could be arrested. This bill criminalises all gay groups and any debate about the issue. Already ordinary Ugandans are acting as though the law has been passed. People are calling the police [with names of suspects] and harassing others in the streets. If this bill is passed we are going to see many other African countries coming up with similar laws.” – Frank Mugisha
Jonathan Cooper, chief executive of the London-based Human Dignity Trust, which campaigns to decriminalise homosexuality around the world and has supported Mugisha, said: “The next few days are absolutely crucial. The international community now has a very narrow window within which to stand in solidarity with Frank and the Ugandan LGBT community and call for Museveni to put a stop to this cruel piece of legislation. Not only will the proposed anti-homosexuality law persecute many ordinary Ugandans, leading to violence, it breaches the country’s own constitution and international human rights law.”
Avaaz in action
In December 2012 Avaaz ran full-page “Christmas card” advertisements in Uganda’s largest newspapers, showing faith leaders’ opposition to the legislation. The Ugandan Parliament closed 2012 without tabling the bill, but political unrest is mounting in Uganda, and religious extremists in Parliament are hoping confusion and violence in the streets will distract the international community from a second push to pass this hate-filled law.
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How you can help
Join with Avaaz and sign the petition to stop Uganda’s anti-gay law: