HRC Blog

12 Senators Send Ugandan President Letter on Homosexuality Bill

Uganda Embassy Protest 038Today, Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and 10 other senators sent a letter to President Musseveni of Uganda to urge that he block enactment of the “anti-homosexual” bill pending in the Ugandan Parliament.  Senator Cardin stated, “Ugandans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered [sic] or HIV-positive, should not live in fear or be punished for simply living their lives.” Senator Durbin explained, “if this proposal carries the day, their government will undermine years of positive Ugandan leadership combating HIV infection, and instead, will begin pursuing a policy of intolerance.” In addition to Sens. Cardin and Durbin, the letter was also signed by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Mark Udall, D-Colo., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai, and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. The text of the letter follows the jump: The Honorable Yoweri Museveni President, Republic of Uganda c/o of the Embassy of Uganda 5911 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 20011  Dear Mr. President: We write to express our deep concern regarding the anti-homosexuality bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament.  This troubling legislation would sanction prejudice toward people in Uganda based solely on sexual orientation, or even HIV status. This is in great contrast to trends toward greater tolerance in the global community.  By creating harsh penalties for homosexuality, this bill not only codifies prejudice, but could also foster an increase in violence towards people simply based on sexual orientation. The legislation also requires persons “in authority,” which could include government officials, employers, clergy, or others, to provide information about suspected violations of the Act. It further criminalizes the work done by human rights and health organizations that benefit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, claiming those actions to be “homosexual promotion.”  Certainly these are not the types of actions to be encouraged as the world strives to reverse violence, poverty, and human suffering caused by divisiveness and repression.  While your nation has been a leader in Africa on many fronts, including the reduction of HIV infections, this proposed legislation will be a glaring setback in Uganda’s human rights standing.  Unfortunately, even the mere threat of the new and severe penalties for homosexual behavior suggested in this bill, including life imprisonment and the death penalty, could easily add to an already intolerant atmosphere in Uganda based on sexual orientation.  We understand you have recently raised concerns over the legislation and urge you to do to everything within your power to block its advancement. We look forward to continue the process of building a strong and long-lasting relationship between the United States of America and the Republic of Uganda. Sincerely, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin Senator Richard J. Durbin Senator Daniel Akaka Senator Christopher Dodd Senator Joseph Lieberman Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Senator Sherrod Brown Senator Jeff Merkley Senator Patty Murray Senator Mark Udall Senator Diane Feinstein Senator Barbara Boxer

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