In the last few hours, President Yoweri Museveni signed a law that imposes penalties of life in prison for homosexuality, marriage between persons of the same sex and “aggravated homosexuality.” It also would set prison sentences of five to seven years for “promotion,” “attempt to commit,” “complicity” and “conspiracy” in relation to homosexuality.
On the signature to this shameful law, Pedro Paradiso Sottile, Gay Regional Secretary of ILGALAC, stated that “this is about a regrettable step backward in the already delicate situation of the human rights of LGBTI persons in Uganda. For that reason we encourage organizations, governmental bodies and international instances, as well as society at large, to make clear their energetic rejection of these laws, as well as to take action against homo/lesbo/transphobia that kills, persecutes or incarcerates so many LGBTI sisters and brothers in every region of the world.”
At the same time, Paradiso Sottile reaffirmed the statement of Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights of the U.N., who warned: “With the rate of HIV infection growing in Uganda, the law would have a negative impact on efforts to prevent transmission and offer treatment to persons who live with HIV, and it would break the commitment of the government to access without discrimination to health services.”
The emergence of the legislation in Uganda is written within the framework of growing homophobia in Africa. In recent months the government of Nigeria has promulgated a law that criminalizes its LGBTI citizens, as well as their activities and organizations, and recently the President of Gambia has put forward, in the context of a lamentable homophobic speech in which he made reference to “that plague of vermin called homosexuals,” that “homosexuality will not be tolerated and will entail the maximum penalty.”
The last Report on State Homophobia by ILGA Africa indicates that “in 36 countries of Africa laws exist that penalize homosexuality, in some cases with the death sentence, and in many more cases with severe prison sentences. This marked difference exists in the continent with the worst laws with reference to homosexuality and other sexual minorities.”
It is important to keep in mind that state homophobia is not limited to only one continent. According to the latest Report on State Homophobia by ILGA, 76 member states of the United Nations still criminalize consenting sexual acts between adult persons of the same sex.
* Translated by Mike Roskey.
Contact information of ILGALAC Regional Office
Address: Córdoba Avenue, 4123 Stage 1 – (C1188AAH) City of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone: +54 11 48643716
Fax: +54 11 48644153