In 2009 an anti-homosexuality bill was introduced in Uganda calling for the criminalization of homosexuality. Citizens were required to report homosexual activity to the police or else risk imprisonment. Gay people faced the threat of convictions resulting in sentences of life imprisonment–or even the death penalty. Following overwhelming international opposition, the legislation was shelved.
But attacks on the LGBTI community have continued. In January 2011, leading gay rights activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death. Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG), has been routinely threatened and harassed.
Just one week later, Uganda’s State Minister of Ethics shut down a human rights workshop. It was organized by Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), an organization that combats discrimination against the Ugandan LGBTI community. He claimed the workshop was illegal and raided the hotel in which it was being held. He also ordered the arrest of FARUG’s Executive Director, Kashsa Jacqueline Nabagesera.
These are just some of the appalling consequences of the bill. It not only promotes hatred and discrimination, but legalizes it. It reinforces and institutionalizes violence against the LGBTI community and human rights defenders.
MADRE stands in solidarity with Women Living Under Muslim Laws/Violence Is Not Our Culture (WLUML/VNC) and other human rights groups in condemning Nabagesera’s recent arrest and the shut down of the human rights workshop. MADRE calls on the Ugandan government to protect its citizens–including LGBTI persons and LGBTI rights defenders–and reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill once and for all.