Human Rights Watch
Posted to the web 12 June 2008
The arrest of three sexual rights activists during a peaceful demonstration to raise awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues shows the Ugandan government's determination to enforce silence around sexuality and HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Minister of Justice and Attorney General Edward Kiddu Makubuya.
Although the activists were released on June 6, Human Rights Watch urged the government to drop all charges against the three and to stop future arrests and prosecution of activists working on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.
On June 3, 2008, police in Kampala detained Onziema Patience, Valentine Kalende, and Usaam Mukwaaya while demonstrating during the HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting-a conference aimed at sharing lessons learned and best practices for HIV/AIDS programs. The three activists were protesting remarks made the day before by the chair of the Uganda AIDS Commission, Kihumuro Apuuli. He had declared that "gays are one of the drivers of HIV in Uganda," and that the government could not afford direct prevention and care.
"Silence around HIV/AIDS kills," said Juliana Cano Nieto, researcher of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "LGBT people do not 'drive' HIV in Uganda, but they have driven many community-based responses. They deserve recognition and inclusion, not repression and jail."
The three activists face charges of "criminal trespass" under article 302 of the Uganda Criminal Code. Even though cosponsors of the Implementers Meeting later provided the activists with appropriate accreditation, the police detained one of the activists for over four hours and charged him with "forgery of documents." All three face a court hearing on June 20, 2008.
Human Rights Watch has repeatedly drawn Ugandan authorities' attention to patterns of abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity. On August 22, 2007, Human Rights Watch wrote to president Museveni concerning threatening statements made by government officials against LGBT people in Uganda. In an October 11, 2007 letter, Human Rights Watch expressed alarm over authorities' call to tighten enforcement of the country's draconian sodomy law, which punishes homosexual conduct with up to life imprisonment.
"When police silence voices defending public health, the only winner is the virus," said Cano Nieto. "Uganda's once-praised HIV prevention efforts are giving way to prejudice and fear."
Bet Kimbowa is going to rail against this one. As will Ssempa. Why?
HRW is an international NGO that tends to police the world, and takes up the cases of human right abuses. It has a section dedicated to Health/HIV Rights, and also to LGBTI rights.
Ssempa fell foul of HRW. Don’t know when he started railing against it. But they are not friends. Last year, he literally accused HRW of being a homosexual organization, pushing homosexual rights, and imposing them onto poor Ugandans who did not want them.
Err, this year, Kimbowa comes up with the same arguments. And he apparently didn’t know that HRW is not a ‘homosexual’ organization. Well, if you listen to only Ssempa, you may be so mistaken.
I know, 27th believes HRW is a neocolonialist organization. He has this conspiracy theory that it is working in the interests of the American Govt. When I pointed out that HRW doesn’t like Guantanamo, I was brushed aside. Well, he is a Communist, so he is allowed the usual biases!
Me? I like HRW. Especially when point out when our lovely governments arrest and detain and imprison us in the name of patriotism.
Few things make me feel patriotic. The result of a lot of thought. I am a Ugandan. An African. It is unfair to be asked to be more patriotic and clannish than other Ugandans and Africans by rejecting what I am, in the name of what others find ok. And too many people use what divides us for their own political and other ambitions.
I have expanded that logic a bit.
It is a big world, a whole world, is Earth. The line drawn on a map to separate me from WildeY is just that. A line, on a map. Yes, an ocean separates me from WhozHe, but our skins have the same tone of melanin. It may differ from WildeY’s, but we are still the same specie. DeT too. We are Human beings.
I am a citizen of Earth. The whole world.
Am I rejecting Uganda, Africa?
No, why should I?
I am just a citizen of the whole wide world.
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