Office of the President
Republic of Uganda
Apollo Kaggwa Road
Dear President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni,
Re: Request to withdraw anti-homosexuality bill on the basis that it is discriminatory, barbaric and unconstitutional
We, the undersigned civil society organisations write to express serious concerns over the recently passed Anti-Homosexuality Bill and call on you to reject the Bill as it violates the right of freedom of expression and association and the rights of Ugandans to be treated equally without any discrimination. The Bill is also at variance with Uganda’s Constitution and its obligations under the African Charter on Human and people’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In its current form, the Bill will institutionalise discrimination and hatred against LGBTI+ communities.
You would recall, Sir, that a similar law - the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act was rejected by the Constitutional Court on procedural grounds after it was challenged by activists, civil society organisations and academics. After that, the Sexual Offences Bill which criminalised sexual relations of persons of the same gender was approved by Parliament on 4 May 2021, but was rejected by you on the basis that it covered provisions already catered for in the Penal Code.
The current Bill has more restrictive provisions. It violates the fundamental rights and privacy of those who identify with the LGBTI+ community and criminalises them for simply being who they are. It criminalises persons who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender, queer as well as other gender identities that are different from the binary categories of male and female. It further criminalises marriages between people of the same sex and proposes lengthy prison terms of between five and ten years for the promotion of homosexuality. These provisions will severely restrict the rights of freedom of expression and association especially by members of the LGBTI+ community and are at variance with the constitutional provisions that promote liberties for all Ugandans.
Imposing restrictions on the LBGTI+ community through Bills like these fosters a climate of hate, intimidation and violence against sexual minorities. As has been observed in the past when similar legislations have been proposed by law makers, there has been a corresponding increase in attacks and restrictions targeting members of the LGBTI+ community with some experiencing institutional and systemic barriers in accessing welfare facilities and others discriminated against by their communities on the basis of their sexual orientation.
The passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been preceded by restrictions, threats and the vilification of sexual minorities in Uganda. In August 2022 the civil society organisation Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) was banned by the Ugandan National Bureau (the NGO Bureau for Non-Governmental Organisations) on the grounds that it was not registered.
In 2012 the NGO Bureau rejected an application by SMUG to have it registered on the basis that the organisation was “undesirable and un-registrable.” Over the last several years scores people have been subjected to sexual violence and arbitrary arrests, with some charged with committing “unnatural offences,” whilst several organisations that advocate for the rights of LGBTI+ communities are scrutinised and investigated by the state.
We call on you to:
● Reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023
● Ensure senior government officials stop vilifying LGBTI+ communities
● Create an enabling environment for sexual minorities and organisations working to advocate for their rights.
- African LGBTI Network, South Africa
- Coalition for Peace and Gender Champions in Africa, Kenya
- Ceva de Spus, Romania
- Coloured Voice Truth to LGBTQ
- Consultando soluciones/ Lime Fundacion
- Equality Rights Africa, Organization
- Lifeline Youth Empowerment Centre
- MenEngage Global Alliance, Nepal
- ORGANIZATION DU FONTAINE
- Rainbow Africa Initiative
- Rural Development Foundation
- Talanta Africa, Kenya
- SAIH - Norwegian Students and Academics International Assistance Fund
- Transgender Equality
- UHAI EASHRI