For Immediate Release: February 8, 2010
New York, NY Today, Human Rights First joined Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) to protest an Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed in the Ugandan parliament. The protest was held outside the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations in Manhattan. During the event, Rep Maloney urged members of the Ugandan government to meet with human rights advocates to discuss the bill and widespread opposition to its enactment.
Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre spoke during today’s event. He notes, “The Anti-Homosexuality Bill represents one of the harshest discriminatory measures ever proposed in any country. This bill would have disastrous effects for gay men and women in Uganda, would aggravate an already alarming trend of criminalization of homosexuality across Africa, and could spur Ugandan homosexuals to flee this persecution by attempting to seek refuge outside of the country. The international community must continue to voice its concern to the Ugandan authorities until the text of this bill is shredded and removed from consideration.”
Human Rights First notes that under existing law in Uganda, homosexuality is criminalized and Ugandans can face up to life in prison for engaging in homosexual acts. For years lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans and their supporters have suffered from lack of security, arbitrary arrests and detention, correctional rape, and execution, in addition to facing regular discrimination from police, teachers, the media, and other sectors of society.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill will only worsen their persecution, further depriving them of their liberty and even their lives. Furthermore, the Bill will negatively affect the human rights of all Ugandans, severely curtailing the work of human rights activists, medical professionals, HIV/AIDS educators, religious leaders, among others.
Joining Congresswoman Maloney for today’s event were Human Rights First, Immigration Equality, the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and Human Rights Watch, as well as the Reverend Dr. Eugene Callender, former longtime pastor at St. James Presbyterian Church, Manhattan’s oldest African-American Presbyterian Church. Rev. Callender also attended Thursday’s Congressional Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, at which President Barack Obama denounced Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. For more information about this legislation, view Human Rights First’s fact sheet at http://www.humanrightsfirst.orgwp-content/uploads/pdf/Bill-No-18-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009.pdf.