We are a collective of human rights and civil society organizations working on social justice and LGBTIQ+ rights in different parts of the world. As supporters and allies of LGBTIQ+ individuals and movements in East Africa, we stand in solidarity with the LGBTIQ+ population and civil society organizations in Uganda and condemn in the strongest terms the anti-homosexuality bill recently passed by the Ugandan Parliament.
If signed into law, this bill would make it a crime to identify as LGBTIQ+ and would hand authorities broad powers to target sexual minorities in Uganda, who already face criminalization and violence. This bill is truly draconian, including life sentences for having same-sex relations – and the death penalty for same-sex relations with people under 18 or if the “perpetrator” is HIV positive.
We call upon President Yoweri Museveni not to sign the bill. As President, we urge him to show how Uganda is committed to protecting its citizens in more vulnerable situations and doing no harm to people just for being who they are. The Ugandan police should also note that the bill is not a law yet and therefore cannot be used to deny LGBTIQ+ Ugandans the right to access justice.
Increased hate crimes and human rights violations
As human rights organizations we are deeply concerned that this law will lead to even more hate crimes and human rights violations against individuals who identify as LGBTIQ+ in a country where homophobia is already rampant. This law goes far beyond any existing anti-homosexual legislation because it targets an individual’s very existence.
We are equally concerned by the shrinking civic space in other countries in East and Central Africa and witness how wider circles of LGBTIQ+ allies are effectively being silenced.
We need solidarity – now more than ever – from the international community
We call upon the global community, including the African Union, European Union, and the United Nations, to demonstrate their condemnation by imposing political sanctions against Uganda aimed specifically at the Ugandan political class, parliamentarians, and other enablers of the bill. This includes restrictions on admission of listed persons (travel ban, visa restrictions), including family members, and freezing of assets belonging to listed persons or entities held in foreign countries.
We ask that other African governments demonstrate the continent’s commitment to human rights by appealing to the President of Uganda to focus on governance issues facing the country and not to use the LGBTIQ+ community as a distraction or scapegoat.
We call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to speak out and remind Uganda of its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights that requires Uganda to protect and respect the rights of “all persons.” We specifically refer to resolution 275 on “Protection against Violence and other Human Rights Violations against Persons on the basis of their real or imputed Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” as passed by the commission in 2014.
Continued support – but no withdrawal of financial aid
Civil society organizations, development partners, and allies should continue giving all necessary support to the LGBTIQ+ community in Uganda. This includes security protection, legal assistance, and technical support – as well as advocacy efforts to stop this bill from becoming law. We encourage development partners and the donor community to continue providing financial aid to the country and through civil society groups in the country. This kind of support is life-saving because the economic rights of the LGBTIQ+ community are already under threat, and without this aid social and economic inequalities will only deepen further.
Our group will organize a series of activities and protests in the coming days to make our position heard in different parts of the continent and globally.
Statement endorsed by
Access to Good Health Initiative (AGHI)
African Focus for Youth Development (AFFYD)
Alliance for Dynamics Initiative
Amahoro Human Respect
Amnesty International, Kenya
Center for Health, Education and Vulnerable Support (CHEVS)
CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality
Community Development and Advocacy Association
Community health initiative for youth in Nigeria
Courageous Sisters Ghana
Crème de la Crème House of Fame foundation ( CDLC)
Excellent Improved Reach Out Initiative
Gaya Warna Lentera
Gender Diversity Movement
Global Interfaith Network
Glorious Interfaith Initiative
Health Fonds Trust Zimbabwe
Hope Alliance Foundation
Initiative for Gender Equality and Sexual Reproductive Health (IGE-SRH).
Initiative for Highlighting Equitable Access to Rights (I-HEAR), Nigeria.
Initiative for Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Awareness (ISRHRA)
Initiative Sankofa d’Afrique de l’Ouest (ISDAO)
Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa (IDNOWA)
Intersex Community of Zimbabwe (ICoZ)
Intersex Nigeria (Center for Healthcare Development and Youth Empowerment)
Jaringan Transgender Indonesia
Key Watch Ghana
Komunitas Sehati Makassar
LAMBDA (Mozambican Association for Sexual Minorities Defense)
MPact – Global Action on Gay Men’s Health and Rights
Namibia Equal Rights Movement
Namibian Sex Workers Alliance
One Love Sisters
Pan Africa ILGA
Priority on Rights and Se4xual Health
Purpose Amplified Namibia
Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, Ghana
Rainbow Reflections of Namibia
Resilience Sisters Ghana
Responsive Action for Sustainable Empowerment Initiative
South African Network of People who Use Drugs (SANPUD)
The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs)
The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH)
The Young Feminists Movement (Y-Fem Namibia Trust)
Wave Makers Initiative for Health and Youth Empowerment, (WIHYE)
Women’s Health and Equal Rights (WHER) Initiative
Women Initiative for Sustainable Empowerment and Equality (WISE)
Work Place Pride
Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI)