Activists stage global day of action against anti-gay measure in Uganda

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Yoweri Museveni. - PHOTO: Wikipedia

Thousands of activists are acting together today (Feb. 10) in solidarity with campaigners in Uganda to show their opposition to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. They are calling on the president to veto the measure.

“If this deeply discriminatory bill is passed it will legalize the persecution of people on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Since the bill was proposed there’s been an increase in homophobic arrests and mob violence. This is turning into a witch-hunt. President Museveni must veto the bill before the situation worsens,” said Gemma Houldey of Amnesty International.

The Global Day of Action was organized by Ugandan civil society groups, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex activists. 

People around the world, including civil society groups in Europe and the United States, are showing solidarity through protests, petitions and action on social media demanding that Museveni vetoes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in its entirety. 

The bill was passed by the Ugandan Parliament in December 2013. The president only has until Feb. 23 to veto or amend the bill to stop it becoming law.

Since the bill was passed, Ugandan civil society groups have documented at least seven arrests of LGBT people. Two were required to have anal examinations to "prove" they are engaging in same-sex sexual activity. These examinations are tantamount to torture and scientifically invalid, an Amnesty statement said.

Ugandan civil society organizations report that anal examinations are becoming a routine procedure for men arrested on suspicion of engaging in sex with other men. LGBTI people are also increasingly being harassed and some individuals have been attacked by mobs.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill would increase the number of criminal offences related to same-sex sexual activity and violates Uganda’s own constitution.

The maximum penalty for engaging in same-sex sexual activity remains life  imprisonment. The death penalty for aggravated homosexuality has been removed. 

People working on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programmes and LGBTI rights would face criminal charges and jail terms for promoting homosexuality

“The bill would not only criminalize LGBTI people, it would have a devastating effect on healthcare professionals and human rights activists.  It is effectively state sanctioned homophobia,” said Clare Byarugaba, a Ugandan LGBTI rights activist. “Now is the time to stand in solidarity with LGBTI people in Uganda. President Museveni must reject this bill and recognize that human rights are for all Ugandans.”