Monday, October 19, 2009

What YOU can do...

Many people have asked me what they can do to help... IGLHRC has helped here.


They have put out an action alert, detailing the problem of the bill, and what you as an individual can do to help. I  wrote that you can write to your political leaders, because I sincerely believe that my country mates are oblivious of the hate in the bill that is before parliament.


But, it is friends outside and inside the country that can put pressure on the government to stop this horrible bill in its course. Ok, I know, friends inside the country are constrained. We all live under the same regime. But, and a huge but, if you dont speak out for me now... You may never get the chance, as, if the bill is passed, then any defence of what I am will be taken as against the law of the country. You will then be labelled a homosexual like me. Or a homosexual 'promoter' and you will be liable to some hefty penalties and punishments for speaking out on my behalf.

Yes. I am very serious.

Here is the IGLHRC Action Alert, with an Introduction, A background to what is happening in Uganda, a summary of what the bill actually wants to implement, and what you are requested to do. In brief, letters to some leaders in Uganda. A sample letter is also presented.


It is below.


Uganda
The Ugandan Parliament is now considering a homophobic law that would reaffirm penalties for homosexuality and criminalize the "promotion of homosexuality." The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 targets lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans, their defenders and anyone else who fails to report them to the authorities whether they are inside or outside of Uganda. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) are calling for the swift dismissal of the bill and human rights protections for all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.


Background
Uganda's Penal Code Article 145a already criminalizes "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" - a charge used to prosecute, persecute and blackmail LGBT people with the threat of life imprisonment. The new bill would specifically penalize homosexuality, using life imprisonment to punish anything from sexual stimulation to simply "touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality." It also punishes "aggravated homosexuality" - including activity by "serial offenders" or those who are HIV positive - with the death penalty.

The bill criminalizes "promotion of homosexuality" in the form of funding and sponsoring LGBT organizations and broadcasting, publishing, or marketing materials on homosexuality and punishes these acts with a steep fine, 5-7 years of imprisonment, or both. Any person in authority who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to a significant fine and up to 3 years in prison - even when this means turning in their colleagues, family, or friends. More shocking, the bill claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while outside of the country.

The bill effectively bans any kind of community or political organizing around non-heteronormative sexuality. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be seriously compromised. Women, sex workers, people living with AIDS, and other marginalized groups may also find their activities tracked and criminalized through this bill.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 not only violates multiple protections guaranteed by the Constitution of Uganda, which ensures independence for human rights non-governmental organizations, but contravenes the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party. This bill undermines Uganda's commitment to the international human rights regime and threatens the basic human rights of all its citizens.



Join the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) in calling for the swift dismissal of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 and the protection of all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.


Please send your letter to:

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
State House Nakasero
email: info@statehouse.go.ug

Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi
email: ps@opm.go.ug
Speaker of the Parliament
Edward Ssekandi Kiwanuka
email: speaker@parliament.go.ug

Minister of Gender, Labour, and Social Affairs
Honorable Opio Gabriel
email: ps@mglsd.go.ug

Chair of the Uganda Human Rights Commission
Med Kaggwa
email: uhrc@uhrc.ug

Directorate for Ethics and Integrity
email: info@dei.go.ug

Chair of the Uganda Diplomatic Human Rights Working Groups
Mathisen Gørild
email: gorild.mathisen@mfa.no

Please also send a copy to:

Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda Embassy of the United States of America
Jerry P. Lanier
email: kampalawebcontact@state.gov

IGLHRC
email: communications+action.alert@iglhrc.org
Send an email and fax to:

Ambassador to the US
Perezi K. Kamunanwire
Fax: 1-202-726-1727
email: pkamunanwire@ugandaembassyus.org

Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda
Fax: 1-212-687-4517
email: pkamunanwire@ugandaembassyus.org


Sample Letter
Your Excellencies:

I am writing to express concern about legislation that would severely restrict the rights of Ugandan citizens, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their defenders, in direct contravention of domestic and international law. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 would not only reaffirm penalties for homosexuality, but would criminalize the "promotion of homosexuality," including funding and sponsoring LGBT organizations and broadcasting, publishing, or marketing materials on homosexuality. Any person in authority who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to a significant fine and up to 3 years in prison - even when this means turning in their colleagues, family, or friends.

The negative repercussions of the bill in Uganda will be immediate and severe. It effectively bans the free association and expression that are necessary for a flourishing civil society, and creates a climate of fear and hostility that undermines the citizenship and solidarity of all Ugandans. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. Effective HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be difficult, if not impossible.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill violates National Objective 5(2) of the Ugandan Constitution, which provides that "the State shall guarantee and respect the independence of non-governmental organizations which protect and promote human rights." Moreover, it directly violates the right to equality and freedom from discrimination (Article 21), the right to privacy (Article 27), the right to freedoms of speech, expression, association, and assembly (Article 29), the protection of minorities (Article 36), and the protection of civic rights and activities (Article 38) to which all Ugandans are entitled. It also violates the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party. This bill undermines Uganda's commitment to the international human rights regime and threatens the basic human rights of all its citizens.

The Bill's revocation of fundamental rights would also seriously undermine the country's reputation and credibility in the international arena. Because it claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while outside of the country, the Bill will strain Uganda's relations with regional and international partners.

While people may hold differing opinions about sexual orientation and gender identity, the legislation before Parliament is an ineffective and fundamentally illegal way to express opposition to a minority group. In recognition of the importance of a diverse, dynamic civil society and the domestic and international commitments that Uganda has made, I urge you to swiftly dismiss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 and reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of all Ugandans.

Truly yours,

Name:
Organization:
Country:

Send your message to the Ugandan authorities.


And, for friends in the European Union, write to your MP and your European Member of Parliament... that is from me, gug!!!

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