Friday February 24 2012

Gays Bill will institutionalise discrimination - lawyers

By Juliet Kigongo, Betty Ndagire & Sarah Tumwebaze.

The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has warned that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, if enacted into law in its current state, would institutionalise discrimination against those ‘who are, or thought to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender’.

“The bill would further purport to criminalise the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality, compel HIV testing in certain circumstances, impose life sentences for entering into a same-sex marriage, introduce the death penalty for ‘aggravated’ homosexuality, as well as punish those who fail to report knowledge of any violations of its provisions within 24 hours,” said the ULS.

The ULS is an umbrella organisation for Uganda lawyers that defends and promotes constitutionalism, the rule of law and the human rights of every citizen.

Mr James Mukasa Sebugenyi, the ULS president, said the bill would violate rights to freedom of expression, thought, peaceful assembly, association, liberty and security of the person and privacy among others.

Ndorwa West MP David Bahati proposed the Bill that seeks to criminalise homosexuality and proposes the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality. He says the Bill will protect the society’s moral fabric.
According to Mr Sebugenyi, the Constitution has relevant provisions for promoting, protection and non-criminalisation of minority activities as long as they are not contrary to the law.

He, however, said ULS is not promoting homosexuality in Uganda but calling for the observance and protection of the rights of homosexuals as human beings, a minority group and as citizens of Uganda.

“We reckon that the spirit of the bill is for noble and moral intentions such as to protect the traditional family, children, youth and cherished cultural values among others. It should however be alive to the fact that we live in a multi–lateral society comprised of various rights, interests and freedoms and should either be tolerated, restricted but not criminalized or banished,” he said.