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Report: LGBTI rights in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi

in BURUNDI,

Naome Ruzindana is a feminist and founding member of the Coalition of African Lesbians and an Executive Committee member since the outset. She is a passionate activist and human rights defender.

She is also a founding member of Horizon Community Association (HOCA) and the director of HOCA, a Rwandan LGBTI organisation. She has been very vocal and actively involved in the LGBTI movement building and mobilization in East Africa. In Rwanda, she has been very instrumental and played a leading role on challenging the government of Rwanda on the penal code which was intended to criminalize same sex relations.

She presented her paper "The Great Lakes of Africa: Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and their Position Towards LGBTI Rights" at the ILGA panel "The Growing Consensus: Towards the End of Criminalization and Human Rights Violations based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" at the 17th session of the Human Rights Council 7 June 2011 at Palais des Nations, Geneva

Excerpts from Ruzindana's presentation.

Rwanda

In Rwanda, arbitrary arrests of LGBTI citizens and gay activists are increasing. Numerous cases of arrests and abuse of the LGBTI people have gone unnoticed even when we had just concluded a successful national Campaign that decriminalized homosexuality.

The current government prohibits any form of discrimination by gender, ethnicity, race or religion. In December 2009 and after intervention by international gay activists, the Rwandan government denied reports that parliament was considering revising its penal code to criminalize homosexuality. Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama eventually said the government believes sexual orientation is a "private matter" and had no plans to criminalize homosexuality.... We only depend on the statement made by the Minister of Justice....

....good news that our Government has made a step forward within the region to endorse the UN Joint statement on ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We applauded that.

Uganda

The controversial Anti Homosexuality bill is one of several bills that Members of Parliament on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee are set to debate when the House resumes business after the appointments of the Ministers. The bill was nearly enacted if it was not for international condemnation of clauses that stipulated death for LGBTIs.....

The current version of the bill does not stop at criminalizing the consensual same-sex relations, but will also imprison anybody who promotes the rights of LGBTI persons, making “all associations that promote or defend sexual relations against nature” forbidden in great lakes region. The notorious “Kill the Gays” might come back......

In October Last Year, the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone published the names and addresses of presumed homosexuals along with a banner that said, “Hang them.” Of which I was among, with the Late David Kato plus others. Later, they decided to take them to court where they worn an injunction prohibiting such publication inciting to violence against homosexuals. ....

The brutal murder of Ugandan human rights leader David Kato has left the LGBTI community in Uganda in shock, mourning, afraid, lowered their self esteem and brought more fear to their lives.

Burundi

Early last year, Burundi enacted harsh new anti-gay legislation that criminalized homosexuality and made same-sex relations punishable by up to two years in prison. Disturbing updates on the status of LGBTIs in Burundi after the President Pierre Nkurunziza secretly signs legislation—previously rejected by the Senate—that attempts to legislate homosexuality out of existence, and this has pyushed gays more into the closet and gay men say their lives have been "marked with increased discrimination and fear" following Burundi's much-criticized draconian ban......

 

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