For Immediate Release: March 16, 2012
Lawsuit on Ugandan anti-homosexuality abuses highlights need to speak out
Washington, DC – On March 14, the Uganda advocacy organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) filed a lawsuit in a federal court alleging that Scott Lively, a fringe American evangelist and founder and president of Abiding Truth Ministries, violated international law by inciting the persecution of gay men and lesbians in Uganda. In the wake of this development, Human Rights First is calling for renewed international pressure against the discrimination and human-rights abuses targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans.
Many American evangelicals and other faith leaders have developed deep ties and influential voices in Uganda and done important work in addressing poverty and other social welfare concerns there. Unfortunately, some have contributed to a climate of intense hostility toward homosexuality in Uganda.
However, when Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first introduced in 2009, many prominent U.S. Christian leaders spoke out to condemn the legislation and affirm the dignity and humanity of LGBTI Ugandans. Human Rights First is now calling on American faith leaders to once again take a stand against this legislation and those who preach intolerance against LGBTI Ugandans. Publicly urging Ugandan Members of Parliament to reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that was re-introduced in parliament in February 2012 would be an important step in contributing to an environment in which the safety, human rights and dignity of all are protected.
“Whatever the court decides regarding Lively’s own involvement in ‘inciting persecution,’ there should be no doubt that such persecution is occurring on a daily basis. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals in Uganda today face discrimination, abuse, and government-led persecution. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which could impose a death sentence for consensual same-sex sexual acts, is only the most well-publicized of the threats hanging over the LGBTI community in Uganda.” said Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke. “The reality is that the existing law in Uganda already criminalizes homosexuality, and that LGBTI Ugandans and their supporters face widespread discrimination, arbitrary arrests and detention, ‘corrective’ rape, and hate crime violence, including murder.”
Human rights violations are generally met with poor, if any, government response in Uganda, and the perpetrators often operate with relative impunity. Government officials can also be the perpetrators of these abuses, as was recently the case when Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, personally raided and broke up a workshop of LGBTI rights activists. He cited that “we do not accept homosexuality in Uganda.” Many Ugandan political and faith leaders and other public personalities have done a dangerous disservice to Ugandan society by justifying such abuses under the false guise of protecting children from being recruited into homosexuality.