Archbishop Tutu leads coalition to oppose Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

This statement was just released. It represents an affirmation of rights and opposition to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill by a diverse group of civil and religious leaders.

Press Release:March 31, 2009

Leading African clergy, jurists and civil society groups call on Uganda to stop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Leading African clergy and prominent individuals, as well as more than 60 civil society and human rights groups from 10 sub-Saharan African countries have endorsed a statement calling on the President, Government and Parliament of Uganda to reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in its entirety.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill provides for severe punishment, inclusive imprisonment, for those engaging in same sex relations, as well as for members of the public who fail to report such activities to the authorities.  The original draft also provides for the death penalty and life imprisonment.  The Bill has already gone through the first reading in Parliament and is now before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. “We are very concerned that it could become law within a few weeks or months”, said Adrian Jjuuko, Coordinator of Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law. 

The statement has been endorsed by leading African clergy such as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the current Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Reverend Dr. Thabo Cecil Makgoba and Canon Gideon Byamugisha of Uganda. Others endorsing the statement include Pius Langa, the former Chief Justice of South Africa, and other jurists, academics, truth commissioners and human rights activists.  

In the declaration, the endorsing individuals and organizations reaffirm their commitment to the universality of the human rights of all persons.  They note that “all forms of discrimination, in particular against vulnerable groups, undermine the human dignity of all in Africa”.  The statement declares that the Bill “promotes prejudice and hate and encourages harmful and violent action against marginalized groups in Africa”.

“Civil society organisations throughout Africa are mobilizing to persuade Ugandan Parliamentarians to block this pernicious Bill”, said Phumi Mtetwa, executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project in South Africa. Godwin Buwa, a lawyer with the Refugee Law Project in Kampala said that “if the Bill is passed, even in diluted form, it would constitute a massive setback for human rights in Africa”.

The statement calls on African governments and the African Union to call on the President and Government of Uganda to withdraw the Bill and to respect the human rights of all in Uganda, without exception. 

The list of individuals and organizations continues to grow and will be updated regularly.  The full list can be viewed at and



We, the individuals and organisations from African countries listed hereunder, recognise the universality of the human rights of all persons.

We affirm that the right of men and women to have same sex relationships is a fundamental human right.

We are further guided in the knowledge that all forms of discrimination, in particular against vulnerable groups, undermine the human dignity of all in Africa.

We are therefore profoundly disturbed by the nature, content and potential impact of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (“the Bill”) that was recently tabled in and is currently being considered by the Parliament of Uganda.

We believe that the Bill, if enacted, will cut deeply into the fabric of Ugandan society by–

·        Violating the rights of an already vulnerable and severely stigmatised group of persons by attacking their dignity, privacy and other constitutionally protected rights;

·        Disrupting family and community life by compelling everyone, by the threat of criminal sanction, to report those suspected of engaging in same-sex sexual activity; 

·        Seeking to withdraw Uganda from the family of nations by reneging on the country’s international law obligations;

·        Undermining public health interventions such as HIV prevention, treatment, care and support;

·        Promoting prejudice and hate and encouraging harmful and violent action to be taken against those engaging in same sex relations.

We respectfully call on the Parliament of Uganda to reject the Bill in its entirety. 

We also call on African governments and the African Union to call on the President and Government of Uganda to withdraw the Bill and to respect the human rights of all in Uganda, without exception. 

Statement endorsed by:-

African personalities include:[1]

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu (former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Former Chairperson of the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission, former General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize) 

Most Reverend Dr. Thabo Cecil Makgoba (Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town)

Reverend Canon Gideon Byamugisha, (Ordained Priest in the Church of Uganda, Recipient of the 2009 Niwano Peace Prize)

Bishop Jo Seoka (Bishop of Pretoria)

Pius Langa, (former Chief Justice of South Africa, Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, former Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu Natal, founder member and former President of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL); co-founder of the Release Mandela Campaign (Natal); recipient of the Order of the Supreme Counselor of the Baobab: Gold)

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC (Acting Judge of the Cape High Court, Member of the South African Judicial Services Commission, Member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, National Chairperson of Advocates for Transformation)

Reverend Bongani Blessing Finca (former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Provincial Electoral Officer for the Eastern Cape, South Africa)

Dr. A. Atia Apusigah (Department of African Studies, University for Development Studies, Ghana) 

Yasmin Sooka (former Commissioner of the South African & Sierra Leonean Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, former Acting Judge of the High Court of South Africa, Director of the Foundation for Human Rights)

Kader Asmal, (Honorary Professor, University of the Western Cape; former South African Minister of Education, Barrister of Lincoln’s Inn, London; former Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Trinity College; founding member of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, former Chairperson of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, former member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress)

Dr. Alexander Lionel Boraine, (former President of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Chairperson of the Mauritian Truth & Reconciliation Commission, former Deputy-Chairperson of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission)

Dipak Patel, (former Director-General of Transport in the South African Government and senior officer of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress)

Dr Fazel Randera, (former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, former Inspector-General of Intelligence, former National Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Committee)

Mary Burton (former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, former President of the Black Sash, Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the University of Cape Town, Recipient of National Order of Luthuli Award)



African based Civil Society Organisations:


1.           Africa Centre for HIV/Aids Management (South Africa)

2.           African Council of AIDS Service Organizations (Senegal)

3.           African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (Cameroon)

4.           AIDS Consortium (South Africa)

5.           AIDS Law Project (South Africa)

6.           AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa  (Namibia)

7.                  Amnesty International East Africa (Uganda)

8.                  Anti-Privatisation Forum (South Africa)

9.           Artists for a New South Africa (South Africa)

10.        Association for Progressive Communications (South Africa)

11.        Centre for Social Accountability (South Africa)

12.        Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (Malawi)

13.        Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (South Africa)

14.        Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (South Africa)

15.        Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (Uganda)

16.        Clinton Health Access Initiative (Uganda)

17.       Coalition to End Discrimination (South Africa)

18.        Development for Peace Education (Sierra Leone)

19.        Engender (South Africa)

20.        Equal Education (South Africa)

21.        Fahamu, African Networks for Social Justice (Kenya)

22.        Foundation for Human Rights (South Africa)

23.        Freedom and Roam Uganda (Uganda)

24.        Gay Umbrella (South Africa)

25.        Gender DynamiX (South Africa)

26.        Grassroots Movement for Health and Development (Malawi)

27.        Gun Free South Africa (South Africa)

28.        Health4Men (South Africa)

29.        History Department of Rhodes University (South Africa)

30.        Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (Uganda)

31.        Human Rights Media Centre (South Africa)

32.       Human Rights Institute of South Africa (South Africa)

33.       Human Rights Watch (South Africa)

34.        Independent Medico Legal Unit (Kenya)

35.        International Center for Transitional Justice (South Africa)

36.       International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (South Africa)

37.       Intersex South Africa (South Africa)

38.        Kenya Human Rights Commission (Kenya)

39.        Kubatana Trust (Zimbabwe)

40.        Labour Research Service (South Africa)

41.        Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (South Africa)

42.       Legal Assistance Centre (Namibia)

43.       OUT LGBT Well-Being (South Africa)

44.        Out In AFrica Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (South Africa)

45.        Pambazuka News (Kenya)

46.        People Opposing Women Abuse (South Africa)

47.        Public Service Accountability Monitor; Centre for Social Accountability (South Africa)

48.        Rainbow UCT (South Africa)

49.        Refugee Law Project (Uganda)

50.        Rural Health Advocacy Project (South Africa)

51.        Sexual Minorities (Uganda)

52.        Social Justice Coalition (South Africa)

53.        Sonke Gender Justice Network (South Africa)

54.        South African History Archive (South Africa)

55.        Southern Africa Litigation Centre (South Africa)

56.        Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (South Africa)

57.        Students for Law & Social Justice (South Africa)

58.        Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (South Africa)

59.        Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)

60.        Uhspa-Uganda (Uganda)

61.        Women’s Academic Solidarity Association of Rhodes University (South Africa)

62.        Women’s Legal Centre (South Africa)

63.       Women’sNet (South Africa)



Phumi Mtetwa (Johannesburg):  +27 72 795 9194; [email protected] 

Jonathon Berger (Johannesburg): +27 83 419 5779; [email protected] 

Adrian Jjuuko (Kampala):  +256 – 782 – 169 – 505; [email protected];

Godwin Buwa (Kampala):  +256 – 712 – 864728; [email protected],

To find out about the work of the Coalition for Human Rights & Constitutional Law’ in Uganda, please go to or contact the Coalition at [email protected]

17 thoughts on “Archbishop Tutu leads coalition to oppose Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill”

  1. Archbishop Tutu is a very liberal Christian – thank God he is there to stand against this Bill – if it does become Law it will only reinforce a view of the continent that the rest of the world sometimes seems to have – backward, awkward, and wrong

  2. Ha ha ha!

    Maazi, I dont bet. Its actually likely I would put my money on your side, that is, if I dont want to lose it.

    I dont believe. And, that extends to what i would dearly love to believe.

    But for you, dear believer Maazi, as some people have been trying to make you comprehend [certainly with little take from your end], is that that bill will hurt the Christians and other religious people of Uganda. That’s why they are back peddling.

    And, it will hurt, and is hurting Ugandans.

    It is actually funny that it takes a lot to drive in the understanding that that bill is un-Christian and evil. And, that it will hurt, as it has already hurt Uganda. I can imagine in the days of Idi Amin, people arguing and laughing and crying with joy as the Asians were expelled. Just like you are leading here, Maazi. Didnt make Uganda any prettier, didnt make Amin less of a crude person.

    Point is, Maadi, as much as you are convinced in the wisdom of the majority, I am equally convinced of their stupidity, and consider you a very brave person to champion them.

    As I commented before, when Tutu stood in the middle of a crowd and stopped a man from being lynched, ‘mob justice’ as you understand in Uganda, I consider that laudable. You side with the crowd. Of course the crowd is made of people.

    Thing is, they slink off home, after the murder of a fellow human being. Tutu’s action were remarked and are still revered. He is a leader amongst men, and continues to lead.

  3. Let us pray that God will show his mercy on all of us for the mistakes and misunderstandings we have in delivering his message of love and redemption.


  4. Maazi,

    Let us pray that God will show his mercy on all of us for the mistakes and misunderstandings we have in delivering his message of love and redemption.

  5. GayUganda, I am sure these statements from religious leaders are comforting for you and your euro-american gay allies, but you will soon be in for a shocker. The Bill shall become law. Wanna bet?

  6. Warren,

    Are you aware that there are many states with laws on the books the criminalize sex with a minor (even if it is a minor with a minor?) We happen to just overlook them – a lot.

  7. Maazi – You mention again of gay sex with minors made wonder if you are aware that in 2007, your laws on defilement were changed to make all sex with minors illegal?

  8. This is the wish of over 96% of the Ugandan people

    Where is this recorded and documented? I would like to see th research that came to that conclusion.

  9. Hmmm,


    Interesting, the way you do put words in my mouth, hey?

    Extremists like me and Ssempa? Ha ha ha ha! No, I will not comment on that.

    For the bill not to become law, I am working very, very hard so that it doesnt. I am not entirely sure that we have turned the tide, but I do reasonably think that we have lots of people on our side now. Did you read the Mufti of Uganda rejecting the bill? He actually did. In the statement that was signed together with other religious leaders as the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda. Now, that was an achievement. This was the guy that I documented was advocating for us gay Ugandans to be marooned on an island till we were dead…. That, I must say, is an achievement.

    Not really killing the bill, but, managing to educate many significant people.

    By the way, as Warren reminded you, it sounds sort of burish to bring up, err, less than good arguments on such a forum….! Sort of shooting yourself in the foot, if you know what I mean….

  10. Warren, thanks for the tip. I am not accusing GayUganda per se. But the Anti-Homosexuality law penalises gay sex with minors among other issues. It seems that GayUganda has a problem with that. Like I have said elsewhere, the Bill is not perfect and needs some tweaking before it becomes law. Despite the antics of extremists on both sides (i.e. Ssempa and GayUganda), cooler heads will prevail and a revised form of the Bill will become law. Foreigners are welcome to criticize and even suggest some changes, but they have no right to ask us to withdraw the Bill. In the same way that Texas rudely reject international opinion about death penalty cases, we in Uganda will brusquely reject threats and undue interference (as opposed to mere advice). GayUganda, the Bill shall become law whether you desire it or not. This is the wish of over 96% of the Ugandan people.

  11. Maazi – There are commenting rules here. You have actually been a reasonable person up to this post. Accusing someone of child molestation is not permitted.

  12. GayUganda,

    I have to say that you are an excellent propagandist. But since you are African, I don’t need to tell you that what you are advocating for in Uganda is impossible. If you cannot keep your hands off underaged teenage boys, stop trying to recruit our young impressionable children via pamphlet distribution in public places, then you had better move to South Africa where you can be free to hold hands with Tutu et al or better still move to United States where you can hold hands with your gay pals (or even the now tamed Pastor Rick Warren who seems to be advocating on your behalf). Infact you can go anywhere in the world (please avoid most African nations, Singapore, Dubai, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.) and do your ” Will & Grace” gay thing no problem. But Uganda is no-go area, okay?

  13. Mazzi,

    Is it because one has different attractions that Uganda finds offensive to their culture or is it the endorsement of it, as you say Westerns do, that is offensive?

  14. Interesting thoughts, Maazi.

    Do you remember what Tutu did to deserve the Peace prize? That always smiling small prelate stood infront of a crowd of enraged Africans, out to ‘necklace’ a man, to kill him by burning to death, because they suspected that he was selling black secrets to the white government.

    I dont know what gave that small man the strength to do so. I know it would not have pleased a lot of people, who were whipping up the crowd to go and hang the ‘betrayers’ anybody suspected of collaborating with the white, apartheid regime.

    I know Tutu, then as now, stood up and, at real risk to himself, did something which I as a human being think was a good thing to do.

    And, he proved that you dont need the support of 99.99999999% of Africans. Not even of the whole world, to do the correct thing. No, you dont.

    Maazi, you may hold onto your African credentials, which I of course, as a gay Ugandan, a gay African offends,… But, you have to understand that there are credentials to being human which beat the African ones, the special, isolationistic, xenophobic ones.

    What Tutu is trying to say is that, some ideals are universal.

    And, he is saying it in a very open way, calling to shame big people, leaders on the African continent.

    Actually, what had made me scroll down to the comment page was the realisation that Tutu has the bit in his mouth. And, that lion has a cause. And, he is going to run and chase it as doggedly as he did before. Expect some very, very clear speach.

  15. A very interesting statement from Desmond Tutu and company. No doubt, this would please Westerners, but unfortunately not 99.99999 percent of African people. Majority of us (Africans) may be poor, but when we look at our solidarity-based communal society and then at the fragmentated state of Western society, we feel proud of ourselves. Desmond and his gang knows fully well as Africans that their statement is meaningless to our people, but they (Tutu et al) crave the adulation of the West and they will get it in abundance. LOL.

    Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha–who produced a petition signed mostly by Westerners and submitted it to our parliament– may even be invited to Norway and conferred the Nobel Prize for “Peace” in the same way that Obama was issued one for doing absolutely nothing other than overcome racial prejudice to win an election…

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