By Melanie Nathan , Executive Director AHRC, March 21, 2023, African Human Rights Coalition condemns the passage of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023 and calls for partners to come out and condemn the legislation, through statements, contacting representatives, asking for the Governments to come out against the legislation, for the persecution and violence it is causing, and will continue to cause. It is persecutory in nature and in flagrant disregard for the Ugandan Constitution itself, as well as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The basis for the legislation is the supposed recruitment of children into “the practice of homosexuality.” However, there are laws to deal with pedophilia that would apply equally to anyone regardless of their sexuality. This law seems to imply that only gays are pedophiles. There is much more that is extremely onerous in the Act. It was very difficult watching the Parliamentarians debate legislation that criminalizes innocent people for who they love, determining that sexuality is a vice, rather than a human way of being. It was mind-blowing to watch the MP’s accuse gays of “luring” children into the practice of homosexuality, and then legislating a 3 year jail sentence for a CHILD who is “lured”. Imagine a child that is not old enough to consent, can go to jail for allowing themselves to be “lured.” We are calling on the Biden administration and other countries to provide dedicated paths for Ugandans and other criminalized African LGBTQI+ to receive asylum on an expedited basis. If it can be done for Ukrainians at war it can be done for the “Anne Franks” of Africa. We are also calling on international corporations to examine their DEI policies noting that continuing business as usual in Uganda is not an option. Apple, Google, Netflix, Verizon, Tour companies, Hospitality Industry all need to show solidarity with Uganda’s LGBTI community at to come out with a plan. In fact the legislation also targets them! How can they continue without a robust plan at this point? After all their very operation places LGBTI people in danger. At AHRC we are outraged. We ask for your support with funding, speaking out and an action plan.
PICTURE: Ugandan Parliamentarians Stand as a “YES” vote to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Parliament today, March 21, 2023. It seems at least 98% approved the Bill
In a fiery debate today, Ugandan Parliamentarians, with a huge majority passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023 - and it now moves on to President Museveni for his assent. In the picture, Parliamentarians STAND as a "YAH" to pass the onerous ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY ACT, with complex amendments, clearly unconstitutional and contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Committee made substantial changes to the initial Bill. What is notable is removing 'touching with the intent to commit homosexuality' and ‘holding out as an LGBTQ person’ as parts of the definition of homosexuality. They also removed the 'homosexual panic' defense, which would have allowed 'victims' to commit any crime while protecting themselves against homosexuality. They then added new provisions including child grooming, rehabilitation of homosexuals, punishment of child homosexuality, to include 3 years in prison for a child - even though they used language “lured” into homosexuality, disqualification from employment, and disclosure of sexual offenses record. They also added a provision to repeal section 145 of the Penal Code, which is the existing law that criminalizes 'carnal knowledge against the order of nature.' A full analysis of the Bill as passed will be shared soon. And you can keep an eye an our website’s news page at www.africanHRC.org/news For next steps, under Article 91(3) of the Constitution, the President has 30 days from when the Bill is presented before him to either to sign it or send it back to Parliament with comments or write to the Speaker refusing to sign. Parliament can then pass the Bill again and send it to the President again. If the President sends the Bill back for the third time, then Parliament can pass the Bill into law with two thirds majority. Now is the time to speak out, as I think Museveni may be a little more measured when it comes to the potential consequences against Uganda.We are hoping that the Biden administration does speak out, as many of our partner organizations are requesting that we do not keep silent. Although there is always the risk of harsher vengeance against the LGBTI community if international countries speak out, it cannot get worse than it already is.African Human Rights Coalition is at maximum capacity with requests for assistance to leave the country, to include human rights defenders who are particularly at risk. People are in hiding and need rental assistance and money for food. To be frank things are chaotic at this time. Several shelters and organizations are under watch or have already been targeted by the Ugandan authorities. This is heading toward catastrophe.AHRC is already supporting several shelters in African countries housing Ugandans who have fled. Noting that we also house and support refugees from other countries. Please help us prepare for many more. DONATIONS The new and amended legislation that passed Parliament today can be accessed here at our website. At AHRC we are outraged. We ask for your support with funding and speaking out. Aluta Continua In Solidarity MELANIE NATHAN AND TEAM AHRC nathan@africanHRC.orgDONATIONS
* Melanie Nathan is a country conditions expert witness in the U.S. courts for Asylum seekers from Uganda and other African countries.