Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Activists denounce Uganda's homosexuality bill – Eliza Anyangwe and Liz Ford -, November 20, 2009

Anti-homosexuality bill 'will harm country's fight against HIV/Aids'

A Ugandan government bill that is advocating the death penalty for gay people will hinder the country's fight against HIV/Aids, legal experts and activists warned this week.

Under the anti-homosexuality bill, now going through parliament, anyone repeatedly "caught" having sex with someone of the same sex faces the death penalty, while people who touch each other in a "gay way" could be jailed.

A clause in the bill also punishes anyone who fails to report an offence within 24 hours of witnessing or finding out about it.

This week, at a public meeting held at Makerere University in Kampala, Rubaramira Ruranga, the executive director of the National Guidance and Empowerment Network of people living with HIV/Aids in Uganda, who is HIV-positive, said: "Fifteen percent of the HIV/Aids spread is as a result of gay activities.

"The best thing is to educate them [homosexuals] because criminalisation causes stigma, discrimination and denied knowledge on HIV/Aids and its treatment."

Others said the bill went "overboard" and should be withdrawn, reported the Daily Monitor.

Sylvia Tamale, a Law don at Makerere and a human right activist, said: "Five of the 18 clauses are problematic from the legal point of view and the attempt to outlaw the promotion of homosexuality will affect everybody because the clauses introduce censorship and undermine freedom of expression, speech, association and assembly."

The Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL) has already expressed its disgust at the bill, saying it is an attempt by some in government to "to whip up sentiments of fear and hatred" by lumping together "predatory sexual acts that violate the rights of vulnerable sections of our society [with] sexual acts between consenting adults". Read complete article - Eliza Anyangwe and Liz Ford -

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