- January 17, 2014
Today, media outlets are reporting that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni refused to approve the anti-LGBT bill that punishes "aggravated homosexuality" with life imprisonment. According to these reports, the president blocked the bill because it was hurriedly passed. If true, this move is welcome, although there is still considerable ambiguity over whether the president refused to sign the bill or was only commenting on why the legislature should not have passed the bill. Despite these confusing comments from the president, the situation in Uganda remains highly dangerous, and law-abiding Ugandans are still at risk.
President Museveni’s statement disturbingly illustrates the challenges that will continue for LGBT Ugandans. The president believes that the bill requires further study because while homosexuality is a “disgusting behavior” and an “alternative lifestyle,” he believes that many are gay because of “financial inducements.” For LGBT Ugandans, especially the young, he believes they can be “rescued” by improving Uganda’s economy. Finally, the president suggested that unmarried women become lesbians due to “sexual starvation.”
Even though this bill has been tabled for the time being, make no mistake: LGBT Ugandans are under attack. The Ugandan parliament can override a presidential action by a two-thirds vote. The bill could also be re-introduced by the speaker of the Ugandan Parliament. If it is, the LGBT community, activists, and allies in the United States and abroad must be ready to continue to fight against such vile comments and hateful actions.
Fortunately, more and more Americans, and others around the world, have been willing to speak out and use their influence to fight these types of terrible laws. Just yesterday, more than 70 Members of Congress sent a strong letter to President Museveni urging him to reject this law. HRC has been working to expose the linkages between anti-LGBT activist in the United States and proponents of anti-LGBT laws in places like Uganda.
Anti-LGBT campaigns are being intensified by Americans who are traveling abroad spreading a message of hate. Individuals like Brian Brown and Scott Lively have crisscrossed the globe to advocate for anti-LGBT laws from Uganda to Ukraine. Lively even claims that the Russian law against gay “propaganda” was his idea and that its passage was “one of the proudest achievements” of his career as an exporter of hate.
That’s why HRC’s Global Engagement Program is so vitally important. We must work with our peer advocates from across the globe and fight for a world where LGBT people are treated with dignity and fairness. And we must combat hateful American anti-LGBT activists who are trying to poison the global well on issues of equality.
And yesterday, HRC President Chad Griffin sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to lead a strong and proactive American response to the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria, where less than a day after that country passed its own anti-homosexuality bill, LGBT Nigerians are being harassed, threatened, and arrested.
We will continue to work with the Administration, Congress, and advocates to ensure that the United States plays an active role in protecting human rights in Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, and around the world, and update you as the situation evolves.