Public Protests Worldwide on Uganda Anti-Gay Measure

New York City Demonstration at 12:30 pm ET, Thursday, November 19

For Immediate Release
November 17, 2009

Media contacts:
Jennifer Flynn, 917-517-5202, jflynn@healthgap.org
Amanda Lugg, 646-258-7155 (cell), amandal@africanservices.org
Hossein Alizadeh, 212-430-6016, halizadeh@iglhrc.org



What:
  • A global public protest against a proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda will take place this week in New York City aligned with global human rights protests in other cities.

Where:

  • Uganda Permanent Mission to the United Nations
    336 East 45th Street
    New York City

When:\t

  • 12:30 PM ET, Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why:

  • Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and its partners in civil society have requested that supporters stage protests against the homophobic legislation at the diplomatic missions of Uganda leading up to Human Rights Day on December 10, 2009. The demonstration in New York is organized by a coalition of supporters, including the African Services Committee, Health Gap, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch, the Council for Global Equality, ACT UP Philadelphia, Advocates for Youth, and Proyecto SOL Filadelphia. A counterpart demonstration protesting the bill will also be held at the Ugandan Embassy in Washington, DC the same afternoon.

Background:

A broad coalition of civil society groups in Uganda have united against the legislation, warning that it will severely undermine human rights and the work of human rights defenders in the country. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans are already persecuted under Penal Code Article 145a, which prohibits "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature." The proposed bill specifically criminalizes homosexuality, and punishes anything from sexual stimulation to "touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality" with life imprisonment. Worse, "aggravated homosexuality" – including activity by "serial offenders" or those who are HIV positive – would merit the death penalty.

The bill's draconian restrictions on homosexuality have drawn public criticism from a diverse coalition of professional and civil organizations in Uganda, who warn that it also undermines civil society, the rule of law, and public health outreach in the country. The bill not only criminalizes the "promotion of homosexuality," but states that any person in authority who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to a significant fine and imprisonment. It would have negative repercussions for HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be seriously compromised

Moreover, it sets a dangerous precedent by revoking the basic human rights of a marginalized group in the name of tradition, with potentially serious repercussions for women, sex workers, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 violates multiple protections guaranteed by the Constitution of Uganda, but also contravenes the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party. By withdrawing from agreements which acknowledge sexual orientation and gender identity, the bill sets a dangerous precedent, undermines Uganda's commitment to the international human rights regime, and threatens the basic human rights of all Ugandans. More shocking, the bill claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while outside of the country, provoking condemnation from the international community and the governments of the United States and France.

For spokespersons, please contact:

Health Gap
Jennifer Flynn, 917-517-5202
jflynn@healthgap.org
African Services Committee
Amanda Lugg, 646-258-7155 (cell)
amandal@africanservices.org
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Hossein Alizadeh 212-430-6016
halizadeh@iglhrc.org
Human Rights Watch
Scott Long, 646-641-5655 (cell)
longs@hrw.org
Advocates for Youth
Donald Hitchcock, 202-251-4351 (cell)
donald@advocatesforyouth.org
Council for Global Equality
Mark Bromley, 202-607-6813 (cell)
mark@globalequality.org
Metropolitan Community Churches
Rev. Pat Bumgardner, 212-629-7440
rvpatmccny@aol.com

For action:

Following the call from SMUG, all human rights defenders are encouraged to join the demonstrations or contact Uganda's diplomatic missions using the information below. The bill's repercussions for human rights and human rights defenders stretch far beyond Uganda, and merit strong support for SMUG and its civil society partners from allies around the globe.

Jerry P. Lanier
US Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda
P.O. Box 7007
Kampala, Uganda
Tel: 256-414-259-791/2/3/5
Fax: 256-414-259-794
kampalawebcontact@state.gov
Perezi K. Kamunanwire
Ambassador to the US
Tel: 1-202-726-4758
Fax: 1-202-726-1727
pkamunanwire@ugandaembassyus.org
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations
336 East 45 Street
New York, NY 10017
Tel: 1-212-949-0110
Fax: 1-212-687-4517
ugandaunny@un.int