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Press briefing notes on Uganda / Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date: 27 December 2013

We are deeply concerned by the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed by the Ugandan Parliament on Friday, 20 December. If the bill becomes law, it would impose sentences of life imprisonment for consensual, same-sex relationships as well as prison sentences on those who “promote” homosexuality.

This law would have a detrimental effect not only on the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members of Ugandan society but also on the work of human rights defenders and efforts to address HIV/AIDS in the country. LGBT individuals in Uganda are a vulnerable and marginalised minority, already facing violence and discrimination. If signed by the President, this new law would reinforce stigma and prejudice, and institutionalise discrimination.

The provisions of this bill stand in clear violation of the rights to liberty, privacy, non-discrimination and freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association protected by the Constitution of Uganda, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Uganda has ratified, and by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Government has a legal obligation to prevent discrimination and cannot withhold basic rights from certain individuals because the majority disapproves of them. All people, including LGBT individuals, have the same human rights and are entitled to full protection by the State.

We call on the President of Uganda to protect human rights and to refrain from signing this bill into law. Uganda should also repeal colonial-era anachronistic provisions of the Penal Code that criminalise consensual same-sex relationships. Urgent steps must be taken to ensure effective protection of LGBT individuals from violence and discrimination.

ENDS

For further information and media requests, please contact:
Ravina Shamdasani (+41 79 201 01 15 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org)
Liz Throssell (+41 79 752 04 88/ ethrossell@ohchr.org )

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