UN denounces Uganda anti-homosexuality law

The United Nations has denounced the draconian anti-homosexuality law signed into force in Uganda today because it will encourage violence against lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people by formalizing discrimination against them.

Navi Pillay, the UN Human Rights chief said the law “will institutionalize discrimination and is likely to encourage harassment and violence against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. It is formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power and accusations against anyone”.

“Disapproval of homosexuality by some can never justify violating the fundamental human rights of others,” she said. The law criminalizes and imposes sentences of life imprisonment for homosexuality, same-sex marriage and “aggravated homosexuality”. It also provides for prison sentences of five to seven years for promotion of, “attempts to commit”, or “aiding and abetting” and “conspiracy to engage in” homosexual acts.

The law violates several fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom from discrimination, to privacy, freedom of association, peaceful assembly, opinion and expression and equality before the law – all of which are enshrined in Uganda’s own constitution and in the international treaties it has ratified. Pillay called for an urgent review to end conflicts with the constitution and treaties.

“With the HIV infection rate rising in Uganda, the law will have a negative impact on efforts to prevent transmission and provide treatment for people living with HIV, as well as undermine the Government’s commitment to non-discriminatory access to healthcare,” she noted.

About protecting children, Pillay said outlawing consensual same-sex relations between adults has no bearing on protecting children against abuse. That should be done through other regulations.

Expressing deep concern that the law could threaten the work of human rights defenders, she urged the Government to ensure that they are not prosecuted.

Author: BRIJ KHINDARIA, Foreign Affairs Columnist