FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: GALCK STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH UGANDAN LGBTI COMMUNITY
In solidarity with our LGBTI comrades and social justice activists and organisations in Uganda, the Gay & Lesbian Coalition of Kenya vehemently protests the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, currently under consideration by the Ugandan Parliament.
As most of you know, the ‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ was been re-tabled before the Ugandan Parliament in February 2012. The current Speaker of Parliament has recently promised to “pass this bill as a Christmas gift to Uganda”.
This Bill's provisions are draconian. Among them, the Bill states that:
“Any person alleged to be homosexual would be at risk of life imprisonment or in some circumstances the death penalty”
“Any parent who does not denounce their lesbian daughter or gay son to the authorities would face fines of $2,650 or three years in prison”
“Any teacher who does not report a lesbian or gay pupil to the authorities within 24 hours would face the same penalties”
“And any landlord or landlady who happens to give housing to a suspected homosexual would risk 7 years of imprisonment”Similarly, the Bill threatens to punish or ruin the reputation of anyone who works with the gay or lesbian population, such as medical doctors working on HIV/AIDS, Civil Society leaders active in the fields of sexual and reproductive health; or even religious leaders providing guidance and counseling to people who are unsure of their sexuality or any other consultations. There are claims that the bill has been watered down, however we reiterate our position that we condemn this bill in its entirety.
The existing law has already been employed in an arbitrary way, and this Bill will just intensify that effect. Since its first reading, increased campaigns of hate have continued uncontrolled. The violence directed at homosexual Ugandans has resulted in the unwarranted arrests of many people and closure of educational workshops for LGBT persons. We have documented about 17 cases in and outside various courts all over Uganda. These acts of violence have now resulted in murder and suicide of LGBT Ugandans. SMUG’s Advocacy and Litigation Officer David Kato who was brutally murdered at his house in January 2011.
All of the offences covered by the Bill as drafted can be applied to a Ugandan citizen who allegedly commits them - even outside the country of Uganda! At the very least, the bill violates all principle human rights and if enacted, it would contravene 8 articles of Uganda's own constitution. It not only violates the Constitution of Uganda but Uganda’s international human rights obligations, and also stifles debate, undermines Civil Society and demeans the common citizenship of all Ugandans.
The Bill does little more than to entrench stigma and prejudice, which will polarize Ugandan society further and undermine public health efforts to combat the spread of HIV. It places a total ban on public discussion of an issue whose existence cannot be wished away. If the Bill is adopted, it will make Uganda a pariah in the international community. We therefore urge the Ugandan Parliament to reject this Bill in its entirety.
“Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) have vehemently responded to the bill and issued several press statements in protest to the bill and continue to engage in various ways to stifle the progression of this bill. When the bill was first introduced in 2009 we called upon our regional and international partners and allies for support in denouncing this bill in simultaneous demonstrations at Ugandan foreign missions in your respective countries. We ask you once again to stand with us and do simultaneous peaceful demonstrations at Ugandan foreign missions in your respective countries.”
Tonight, 23rd November 2012 at Alliance Francaise in Nairobi, the Gay & Lesbian Coalition of Kenya with Human Rights Watch will be screening ‘Call me Kuchu’, which tells the story of the late, veteran activist David Kato who labored to repeal Uganda’s homophobic laws and liberate his fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women, or “kuchus.” But Kato’s formidable task became more difficult as a new “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” is introduced that proposes the death penalty for HIV-positive gay men and prison for anyone who fails to turn in a known homosexual.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Pepe Julian Onziema (Sexual Minorities Uganda), Jackson Otieno (GALCK), John “Longjones” Wambere (Spectrum Uganda Initiatives), and Jane Wothaya (Gay Kenya Trust).
Please join us tonight to show solidarity with our Ugandan brothers and sisters and to honour the memory of David Kato.
The Gay & Lesbian Coalition of Kenya