Unsettling Movement on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
May 10, 2011 by Ty Cobb, Director of Global Engagement
This week the Ugandan Parliament could take action on the Anti-Homosexuality Act, a bill that has be denounced by governments around the globe. The legislation would make homosexuality in Uganda punishable by life imprisonment or even death. In addition, the bill would make individuals responsible for reporting lesbian and gay individuals to the government.
This past Friday, May 6th, the Ugandan Parliament’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee held public hearings on the legislation. Many supporters of the legislation showed up, but so did those opposed to the legislation. Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who has spoken out against this legislation on numerous occasions, said in the hearing “if we criminalize the LGBT community further, it will drive Ugandans further underground and compromise the relationship of medical [providers], counselors and clergy that is sacrosanct and needs to remain confidential. How can we expect doctors to treat everyone when this bill will require them to report on their patients who are LGBT?”
As Bishop Senyonjo statement makes clear, beyond further criminalizing lesbian and gay Ugandans, the reporting requirement would have significant consequences for the treatment of HIV/AIDS in Uganda. The bill would require service providers to report lesbian or gay patients, or even those thought to be lesbian or gay, to the authorities.
If the bill is moved out of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, it is reported to have the support of a majority of the Ugandan Parliament, which is set to adjourn by the end of the week. The Council for Global Equality, of which HRC is a founding member, has been working diligently to ensure that the State Department is engaged on this issue. The current situation is very fluid, but stay tuned for more developments on this issue.
For more information on the legal and political ramifications of the bill, please visit the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law.
In the past, HRC has worked with groups like Soulforce, with whom we delivered 70,000 petitions to Kansas City based Pastor Lou Engle of TheCall ministry and the International House of Prayer (IHOP). We were also present at the New York City Memorial Service to honor the Ugandan LGBT Activist, David Kato. Kato was the advocacy officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). In January, HRC called on U.S. fundamentalist pastors Carl Ellis Jenkins, Lou Engle and Scott Lively, to quickly abandon their hateful and dangerous anti-LGBT rhetoric and actions. And when Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, the outspoken advocate for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Uganda, graced Washington, DC this week and HRC was honored to ensure that his message of love for LGBT people was heard by legislators, opinion leaders, and Washingtonians concerned about securing LGBT equality globally.
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