House and Senate consider resolutions opposing Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

This comes from Jirair Ratevosian, Deputy Director of Public Policy with The Foundation for AIDS Research, based in Washington, DC. In a letter dated march 22, 50 organizations, primarily relating to AIDS research and treatment, called on the House and Senate to pass resolutions H Res 1064 and SRes 409, respectively. Contact your Senator and Representative to ask them to co-sponsor and vote for these resolutions. Here is the letter supporting the Senate resolution:

March 22, 2010

RE: S. Res. 409

Dear Members of the U.S. Senate:

We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge you to stand in support of the health and human rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and support Senate Resolution 409.

S. Res. 409, introduced on February 4, 2010 by Senators Feingold, Coburn, Collins and Cardin calls upon members of the Parliament in Uganda to reject the proposed ‘‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill” that would expand penalties for homosexuality to include the death penalty and require citizens to report information about homosexuality to the police or face imprisonment. The resolution also calls for the governments of all countries to reject and repeal similar criminalization laws, and encourages the Secretary of State to closely monitor human rights abuses that occur because of sexual orientation and to encourage the repeal of laws that permit such abuses.

Criminal penalties against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity violate universal human rights, demean human dignity, and threaten to undermine the effectiveness of the global response to HIV.

The effort to halt and reverse the spread of HIV & AIDS globally is compromised by punitive legal environments that further marginalize communities at high risk for HIV. Gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in low- and middle-income countries are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population. Criminal laws that expressly target this population drive the community underground, fueling risk-taking behavior in a climate of fear and silence, and making it difficult to reach MSM with the information and services they need. Investments in PEPFAR, totaling over $32.3 billion since FY 2004, will not achieve their full potential in a political climate that is hostile to key affected populations.

The proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” in Uganda has drawn international criticism—from multiple Democratic and Republican members of the US Congress, Secretary Clinton, the Vatican, and heads of state, including President Obama. Thousands of human rights and health groups as well as physicians and health professionals from around the world and across the U.S. have spoken out against the proposed bill.

In March 2009, the United States signed on to the United Nations Statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, which reaffirms the universality of human rights and calls for the repeal of same-sex criminalization laws. As U.S. Senators, you have a key role to play in championing the realization of these principles on a domestic and world stage.

We thank you for your leadership in this regard and ask for your continued support to stand up for health and human rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation. We urge you to express your support for these principles by signing on to Senate Resolution 409.

For more information, please contact Krista Lauer and Jirair Ratevosian.


(signatures of 50 organizations)

Baral S, Sifakis F, Cleghorn F, Beyrer C. Elevated Risk for HIV Infection among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Low- and Middle-Income Countries 2000-2006: A Systematic Review. PLoS Med. 2007, Dec;4(12):e339.

The House letter is here and a blog post with more information is here.

Petition delivered to Uganda’s Parliament; Ssempa miffed is hosting a petition opposing Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The first installment of signatures was delivered earlier today to the Speaker of the Parliament, Edward Sekandi. From

The anti-gay bill was tabled in parliament by member of parliament David Bahati in October 2009. Since then a lot has been debated about the harshness of punishments in the bill.

The petition was today morning presented to the speaker of Uganda parliament Edward Sekandi by four people who said were representing Aids service providers, human rights activists, spiritual mentors and councilors.

Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha, the first Anglican church priest in Uganda to declare that he was living with HIV-AIDs in late 1980, led the group that presented the bill to the speaker in parliament.

Byamigisha told the press in Kampala that the speaker welcomed their petition and promised to send it to the committee working on the bill. He said that Sekandi told them that it is now too late to withdraw the bill because it is already in the hands of parliamentarians.
You can find the petition here. Normally I do not sign online petitions but this one has some connection in the real world via Rev. Byamugisha. I think this with the Facebook groups (over 100,000 members of the various groups) might give some sense of the magnitude of the hope for a reconsideration among Uganda’s key leaders.
UPDATE: Martin Ssempa is not happy with the petition, calling Byamugisha one of the “imperialistic agents of sodomy.” Ssempa want the petitioners thrown out of Parliament and sent to some camp for a little reeducation.