Uganda: Contested “Anti-Homosexuality” Bill Pushed Through

Vote Must be Declared Invalid or Bill Vetoed

(New York – December 20, 2013) Uganda’s Parliament passed a bill today criminalizing information and speech related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, as well as any actions appearing to sanction LGBT lives, said the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). The bill was first introduced in 2009 and has been under intense criticism from human rights groups and defenders inside and outside of Uganda for violating basic rights. Homosexual relations are already punishable with life imprisonment.

“In a country where homosexuality is already criminalized and LGBT communities are already marginalized, this bill provides an additional excuse to exclude, abuse, and discriminate for no other reason than someone being perceived as gay,” said Jessica Stern, Executive Director of IGLHRC. "But there is no legitimate excuse, ever, for violence and exclusion."

Uganda’s Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi reportedly questioned the legality of the vote, as it may have happened without quorum. If the vote is declared valid, the bill will advance to President Yoweri Museveni for assent or veto.

“It is telling that this hotly contested bill was scheduled for a vote on the last day of the last week before the holidays when so many parliamentarians were absent,” said Stern. “This smells of political opportunism and should be condemned as such. This vote must be declared invalid, but if it proceeds, President Museveni must veto the bill.”

Leaders of donor countries, including US President Barrack Obama, have already spoken out strongly against earlier versions of the bill.