If this bill is allowed to pass it could have global ripple effects for LGBT activists all over the world. Even Ugandans living abroad, under the proposed bill, could face extradition and imprisonment if charged with being homosexual or in aiding homosexuals in Uganda. If past harassment of the Ugandan LGBT community is any indicator, the proposed bill would likely lead to witch hunts, more harassments, violence, and even extrajudicial executions. The bill’s “nullification” of international treaties that would offer a form of protection or recourse for Uganda’s LGBT people and LGBT activists further limits the role of international bodies and governments.
The proposed bill has garnered attention in the U.S. due to a recent New York Times article citing a link between recent visits by anti-gay American evangelicals and the introduction of the bill. Discussion between anti-gay American evangelicals and conservative elements within the Ugandan government regarding the threat of homosexuality may have been the match that lit the fuel of the current fever of homophobia being felt in Uganda. Currently there is growing momentum in the U.S. Congress calling for the repeal of the proposed legislation and President Obama has come out in criticism of the bill’s measures.
In a country that has survived a relatively recent experience with periods of tremendous violence and indiscriminant executions, the passage of the Anti-Homosexual Bill could ultimately take the country backwards to a time when individuals were singled out for political and social reasons for random arrest and execution. The proposal of the bill, therefore, offers an opportunity to LGBT and human rights activists to fight for not only the repeal of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, but also the abolishing of existing anti-gay laws that have seen an escalation of violent attacks against and, harassment of, LGBT people in Uganda. The basic human rights to freedom, dignity, and freedom from discrimination must be protected for all Ugandans, at home and abroad.
Contribution by Msia Clark, Uganda Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA