Coming this morning is a report from Ultimate Media of the recent call from human rights groups for Uganda’s politicians to reject the proposed anti-gay law there. Note who this article points to as being in the lead on the public push for political action – Family Life Network.
Human Rights organisations have written to the government of Uganda urging for the withdrawal of a bill that seeks to heavily punish those involved in homosexuality.
This follows the presentation of a draft “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” introduced by Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati on October 14, 2009 providing for a death penalty for those engaging in homosexuality.
A group of 17 human rights organisations led by Human Rights Watch say the bill is unnecessary and will suppress many Ugandan gays and anyone who is suspected of engaging in homosexuality.
In the letter released today, the orgnaisations said the draft bill’s proposals will result in gross human rights abuses and hamper the fight against HIV/AIDS as gay people will fear to come forth for HIV testing, counseling and treatment if they are found HIV positive.
Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda, but the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo has been complaining that the law is inadequate to curb homosexuality that is reported to be on the increase in Uganda.
He says the current law requires the state to prove that a person is indeed engaging in same sex relations, which has been difficult for the police to establish.
Apart from occasional arrests, torture and harassment, no one has been convicted of homosexuality since the law was introduced in Uganda’s Penal code (Section 140) by British colonialists.
The High Court ruled in favour of gays in a landmark case last December that was filed by gay Rights activists, contending that all Ugandans are entitled to the same rights and freedoms, including from torture and discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, ethnicity or other grouping.
The proposed law now seeks to criminalize those who promote homosexuality, including publishing information or providing funds, premises for any activities by gays or giving them any other resources.
The bill also seeks to punish by up to three year imprisonment anyone including heterosexual people, who fail to report within 24 hours the identities of everyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
But how all these crimes will be proved and prosecuted is not clear in the draft bill.
Many religious leaders in Uganda and the Family Life Network have been fighting against what they call a proliferation of homosexuality in the country and accuse some individuals and organization of recruiting homosexuals in schools and luring students with money and gifts.
The Gays in Uganda have refuted these accusations arguing that they are aimed at presenting homosexuals as predators taking advantage of innocent children.