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Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill Back in Play and Could Be Law By End of Week

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CCR Calls for Immediate End to Human Rights Abuses and Persecution

Contact: press@ccrjustice.org

May 11, 2011, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement in response to news that Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill is back in play and could be law by the end of the week:

The Center for Constitutional Rights condemns the efforts of anti-gay parliamentarians in Uganda to push through the notorious “Kill the Gays” bill as well as the government’s violent crackdown on political protests contesting worsening economic insecurity. We stand with Sexual Minorities Uganda and all friends and colleagues in Uganda who are fighting for human rights, including those of LGBTI people, and with inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, experts and advocates around the world in calling for the bill to be stopped.
 
As has been widely reported, the anti-gay bill would impose the death penalty for a second conviction of consensual sex between two people of the same gender. It would also require family members, medical personnel, clergy and others to report people they suspect of being gay to the authorities or face long sentences of imprisonment.  
 
The bill was introduced by David Bahati, who received training from The Family, a U.S.-based right-wing evangelical network led by David Coe. The bill emerged after a controversial 2009 meeting in Kampala attended by U.S.-based evangelical Scott Lively, who has compared the effect of his work there to a "nuclear bomb" that he hopes is replicated elsewhere.

This parliamentary maneuver occurs amidst mass demonstrations and severe repression of political dissent, including the killing of at least nine people by Ugandan security forces. Instead of focusing on that crisis in the last days of this parliamentary session, members of parliament are now seeking to scapegoat the LGBTI community as a way of diverting the public’s attention from a worsening economic situation. A report on the bill is expected to be issued by mid-week and the legislation could be presented to parliament by the end of the week.
 
It should come as no surprise in these circumstances that David Bahati, the member of parliament who originally introduced the anti-gay bill, is claiming to have played a role in finding “common ground” between the government and opposition leaders by introducing a resolution in parliament to address the heated protests over inflation and the government’s violent response.
 
Whether or not the anti-gay bill becomes law, and whether or not the death penalty provision remains, the mere introduction of the bill has served to intensify a climate of hatred and persecution of the LGBTI community in Uganda. The persecution of Ugandans on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity has already cost lives and given rise to grave human rights violations. The bill must be stopped and those Ugandan and foreign actors responsible in any way for this crime against humanity must be held accountable.
 
The Center for Constitutional Rights urged supporters to contact the State Department by phone (at 202-647-6575) or by writing a comment on the State Department website to ask them to communicate these concerns to the Ugandan authorities in direct and private advocacy.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.