“In France, the debate is about same-sex marriage and equal rights. In Uganda, we are still debating whether homosexuals have the right to live,” said Auf Usaam Mukwaya, a spokesman/organizer for a group of Ugandan refugees.
The words were reported by the French Tetu website in its article about a “die-in” that the refugees held in Paris on Nov. 29 to protest the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently heading for a vote in the Ugandan parliament.
The protesting group, Collectif des Ougandais LGBT en France, condemned the draft bill and called on the parliament to reject it. Their protest was supported by the French activist group Inter-LGBT.
Auf Usaam Mukwaya said during the protest:
A draconian Anti- Homosexuality Bill, that may be debated and voted upon as early next week by the Ugandan Parliament, would further endanger Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people in a country where gay rights are already absent. …
Same-sex relations between consenting adults are currently criminalized under the Ugandan Penal Code with punishment of up to life imprisonment. If adopted, the new draft law will ban the “promotion of homosexuality,” which poses a significant threat to anyone working for LGBTI rights.
The bill introduces additional draconian provisions including criminal penalties for anyone, including family members and public health professionals, who fail to report violations of the law within 24 hours. There are conflicting reports that a death penalty provision originally included in the draft bill may have been removed; however, these claims cannot be confirmed until the text of the bill is publicly released.Ugandan LGBTI groups are genuinely concerned that the draft bill, which has been resurrected several times since it was first introduced in 2009, will be put to a vote before the end of the year. Speaker of the Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has promised to pass the bill as a “Christmas gift” to Uganda.
An activist from Lesbians of Color interrupts Auf Usaam: “Remind them that the American extreme right press the Ugandan government to pass the law.” The organizer confirmed: “They have provided major funding to ensure that the law is passed.”The groups expect no counteracting miracle from the French side.
“France gives € 30,000 to fund support for LGBT internationally. This is ridiculous. There’s no strong political commitment to international action,” a French activist said. …
For five minutes, lying on the ground, holding signs in their woolen gloves, their noses covered with scarves, the activists dreamed of the possibility of equality in the country where they were born. When they arose, there was a haunting echo on the esplanade: “Shame, Uganda.”
The protestors joined their voices with many other opponents of the bill, especially echoing the language used by Freedom House, a Washington-based watchdog group. They noted:
“The existing Ugandan sodomy law already violates fundamental human rights enshrined in the Ugandan Constitution and protected under international law,” said Ariel Herrera, senior program officer for the Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Program at Freedom House. “The Anti-Homosexuality bill will only further entrench discrimination and prejudice and incite increased harassment and violence against anyone suspected of being LGBTI.”
The demonstration was held in front of the Eiffel Tower at Human Rights Square in Trocadéro. The protestors said their goals were:
- Supporting their friends who are activists in Uganda
- Bringing awareness about the Ugandan situation to the French LGBT community and to the public in general
- Addressing the French government on this issue