Thursday, 14 January 2010

MPs move to condemn Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill

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We're pleased to learn, via Peter Tatchell, that Labour MP Harry Cohen has tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons condemning the Ugandan bill that would criminalise homosexuality in the country, making certain same-sex acts punishable by the death penalty. The Early Day Motion "calls on the British Government and the European Union to press the government of Uganda not to proceed with its Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which violates the equality and non-discrimination provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter of Human and People's Rights." You can ask your own MP to support the motion by writing to them via the Write To Them website – Tatchell provides a template you can use about hallfway down this post.

The Early Day motion coincides with a report in today's Guardian, which states that Ugandan president Yoweri Musaveni has told his party that the proposed law has become foreign policy issue, and indicated that the law may be watered down in order to deflect international outrage. James Nsaba Buturo, minister for ethics and integrity, has suggested that the death penalty provisions may be dropped. However, Frank Mugisha of the organisation Sexual Minorities Uganda warns that even a diluted bill would still contain "a lot of discrimination".

In our forthcoming issue (out later this week), we publish the following letter from Tatchell which explains the proposed law and what you can do to help prevent its passage. We urge you to read it and take the recommended action:
"Uganda is gripped by a homophobic witch hunt, encouraged by local Christian leaders and funded by US evangelical ministries. The result is the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is currently before the Ugandan parliament, and threatens to introduce a law more draconian than that of Saudi Arabia or Iran.
It proposes the death penalty for two classes of same-sex acts. First, for “aggravated” homosexuality, which is defined as gay sex with under 18s or disabled persons and gay sex by a person in authority or by a person with HIV, even if they use a condom. Second, for “serial” homosexual acts, those who have same-sex relations more than once.

The Bill extends the existing penalty of life imprisonment for same-sex intercourse to all other same-sex behaviour, including the mere touching of another person with the intent to have homosexual relations. Life imprisonment is also the penalty for contracting a same-sex marriage.

Promoting homosexuality and aiding and abetting others to commit homosexual acts will be punishable by five to seven years’ jail. These new crimes are likely to include membership and funding of gay organisations, advocacy of gay human rights and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to gay people.

A person in authority – gay or heterosexual – who fails to report violators to the police within 24 hours will be sentenced to three years behind bars.

The new legislation has an extra-territorial jurisdiction. It will also apply to Ugandan citizens or foreign residents of Uganda who commit these “crimes” while abroad, even in countries where such behaviour is not a criminal offence.

Even before the new law was proposed, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans faced life imprisonment. This legislation gives a green light to blackmailers and to the police harassment of LGBT people.

What can you do to help stop this madness? Please ask your MP and MEP to write to the Ugandan High Commissioner and to the Foreign Secretary, urging that the Bill is scrapped, via this website:"


DM said...