Uganda’s draconian Anti-homosexuality Bill is currently awaiting President Yoweri Museveni’s signature. President Museveni has 30 days from 23 January 2014 when the bill was presented to him to either sign it into law or return it back to Parliament for reconsideration. The bill is in gross violation of basic human rights principles enshrined in Uganda’s constitution and international law.  CIVICUS has coordinated a joint letter by 25 civil society groups based in Africa urging President Museveni - for reasons outlined below - to do the right thing by rejecting this regressive Bill.

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4 February 2014

President Yoweri Museveni
Office of the President
Parliament Avenue
P.O. BOX 7168,
Kampala
Uganda

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Dear President Museveni, 

We write to you as a group of civil society organisations based in Africa. We are deeply concerned about the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which is currently under review by your office. We understand that, as the President of Uganda, you have the power to reject this repugnant bill and send it back to Parliament for reconsideration. 

We believe that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is profoundly un-African as it preaches an agenda of intolerance, discrimination and ultimately, divisiveness. It also breaches the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights’ promise of human beings being inviolable and entitled to respect for their life and integrity of their person.

Moreover, the Bill’s promotion of institutionalised discrimination and control over people’s personal life on the basis their sexuality has the potential to severely divide rather than unite Ugandan society. Policing of private acts through the requirement for persons exercising religious or social authority to report offences will create a state sanctioned culture of spying and provide a vehicle to settle personal vendettas. 

The Bill’s criminalization of the “promotion” of same sex relations is severely threatening to the existence of civil society in Uganda, prohibiting free expression of progressive positions on human rights and the rights of sexual and gender minorities. It puts individuals and organisations that challenge the official position on LGBTI rights and promote tolerance and understanding in communities at risk of closure and prison sentences while undermining efforts geared towards healthcare for the LGBTI community. 

We, the undersigned, appeal to your office to consider the above-mentioned impacts of this regressive Bill which we strongly believe is in violation of basic human rights principles enshrined in Uganda’s constitution and international law. We urge you to take a principled stand by not signing this Bill into law. Furthermore, we request you to take steps to promote a culture of tolerance of sexual minorities in Uganda including through state institutions and law enforcement agencies. 

Signed.

Association des Femmes Juristes du Burundi (Burundi)

Chapter 4 (Uganda)

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Coalition pour le Developpement et la Rehabilitation Sociale (Burundi))

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

Gay and Lesbian Coalition (Kenya)

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (South Africa)

Human Rights Network (HURINET-U) (Uganda)

Iniskoy for Peace and Development (Somalia)

International Commission of Jurists

Iranti Org (South Africa)

National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (Uganda)

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (Kenya)

Out in Africa (South Africa)

Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network

SahRiNGON (Tanzania)

Sexual Minorities Uganda (Uganda)

Sexual Rights Centre (Zimbabwe)

South African Women in Dialogue (South Africa)

Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (Tanzania)

Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (Zambia)

Twerwaneho Listeners Club (Uganda)

Union de Jeunes pour la Paix et le Developpement (Burundi)

West African Human Rights Defenders Project

Zambia Council for Social Development (Zambia)

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