By Nthateng Mhlambiso (BTM managing Editor)

aw59UGANDA – 16 October 2009: Frustrations are mounting among Ugandan gays and lesbians over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill tabled in Parliament of Uganda on Wednesday, prohibiting homosexual acts, distribution of gay related material, any public discussion or expression of gay and lesbian lives and any organizing around sexual orientation.

Sexual Minorities Uganda, an umbrella organisation of gay rights organisations has said that this “repressive” Bill is a blow to a “steady” progress of democracy in the country.

It stated that the Bill violates the basic rights to freedom of expression, conscience, association, and assembly, as well as internationally recognised protections against discrimination.

“its [the Bill] intention is to divide and discriminate against the Ugandan homosexual population, and exclude them from participation in public life, which goes against the inclusive spirit necessary for our economic as well as political development. Its spirit is profoundly undemocratic and un-African”, SMUG said in a statement.

SMUG revealed that increasing campaigns against gays and lesbians have led to severe violence resulting in many unwarranted arrests and several deaths of homosexual people.

I added “this bill aggravates stigma and hatred and renders all promised protections enshrined in the constitution for all Ugandan citizens void.”

Uganda has, according to SMUG, repeatedly pledged to defend these fundamental freedoms in the Constitutiom, has signed treaties binding it to respect international human rights law and standards including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“As part of the community of nations forming sexual minorities we urge Ugandan parliamentarians and government to continue to respect these principles and reject this bill, which establishes a new and totally undemocratic level of policing private life.”

“These positions will further set a dangerous precedent and send a signal that any Ugandan’s privacy is unguaranteed -that all of our civil society could be put under attack. If this bill is passed into law, it will clearly endanger the work of all human rights defenders and members of civil society in Uganda”, SMUG said.

“As the Sexual Minorities in Uganda, we urge you to act on that obligation, and to
further the growth of our democracy. Kindly vote against this bill”, SMUG concluded.