UN Rights Experts Urge Uganda to Redouble Efforts to Shelve Anti-Homosexuality Bill

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–1 March 2010 – Two independent United Nations experts today urged the leaders and Government of Uganda to prevent an anti-homosexuality bill currently before Parliament from becoming law, stressing that it would be in breach of fundamental freedoms and human rights.

“The bill would not only violate the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandan people but would also criminalize the legitimate activities of men and women, as well as national and international organizations, who strive for the respect for equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” stressed Margaret Sekaggya and Frank La Rue.

Ms. Sekaggya, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and Mr. La Rue, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, issued their statement ahead of the third and final reading of the bill before the Ugandan Parliament.

In addition to a fine, the bill would impose on an offender imprisonment of at least five years, and in the case of a non-governmental organization (NGO), the cancelling of its certificate of registration and criminal liability for its director.

The experts said the bill would also “unjustifiably obstruct the exercise of the right to freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, and association, by prohibiting the publication and dissemination of materials on homosexuality, as well as funding and sponsoring related activities.”

They welcomed the recent attempts made by President Yoweri Museveni and other members of the Government to prevent the bill from becoming law, and called on them to redouble their efforts.

“We urge Parliamentarians to refrain from adopting this draconian bill,” said the experts, who report in an independent and unpaid capacity to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.

In recent weeks, both the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and the Special Rapporteur on health, Anand Grover, have spoken out against the bill, stressing that it not only violates the fundamental human rights of Ugandans, but will also impede efforts to combat HIV.