|Credit: Amnesty International|
‘Our neighbours said to me, “Why are you still alive?”’ – Frank, Kampala
Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill is back. Passed by Parliament at the end of last year, it is now with the President for approval or dismissal by the end of January. The Bill proposes to sentence anyone identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or intersex - LGBTI - in Uganda to life in prison. It will have terrible wide-ranging repercussions and punish activists, health workers and lawyers for 'promoting' homosexuality. Amnesty International is asking people to urge the President to stop it.
It’s already illegal to be gay in Uganda, with a lengthy prison sentence for anyone found to have had same-sex relations. But this new Bill goes even further, and anyone identified as LGBTI will be imprisoned for life.
This month marks three years since prominent gay rights activist David Kato - who campaigned against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it first appeared before Parliament in 2009 - was murdered in his home. His murder followed a hate campaign in the national press which called for Kato and others on a ‘gay list’ to be hanged.
Sadly, in the years since Kato’s murder, attacks have increased and rights for LGBTI individuals rolled back even further – led by hateful tirades in the media, and vicious campaigns by law-makers keen to legitimise discrimination.
It is impossible to assist gay rights activists with court cases without receiving abuse and assaults – from neighbours and passers-by, to government officials and the police.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill not only legitimises but actively encourages such activity.
What’s more, the Bill will extend punishments to anyone found to be 'promoting homosexuality'. If it becomes law, access to basic legal and health rights will be denied to a whole section of Uganda’s society.
Health workers will be barred from conducting HIV tests or advising LGBTI patients; lawyers prevented from advising LGBTI clients; activists prevented from defending LGBTI rights.
In fact, if you know of someone working with LGBTI individuals and you fail to report that activity within 24 hours, you too will be prosecuted.Please tell the President that love is a human right and urge him to veto the bill: take part of Amnesty International action here.