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Desmond Tutu and Nobel winners back gays in Uganda and globally

Archbishop Tutu and others make joint statement in response to Uganda’s ban on gay organizations and threats of new death penalty law
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has backed gay, bi and trans rights around the world.
Photo by Dale Frost.

Four Nobel Laureates – including Archbishop Desmond Tutu – have called on people all over the world to respect gay rights.

The statement issued by the Robert F Kennedy Center (correct) for Justice Human Rights and Human Rights was released in conjunction with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) in response to that country’s government restricting the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

Desmond Tutu, Professor Jody Williams, Dr Shirin Ebadi and Professor Muhammad Yunus say: ‘As a global community of individuals dedicated to a more peaceful and just world, we wish to express our grave concern as to how our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) brothers and sisters are being treated across the globe.

‘Collectively we represent a diverse array of countries and cultures. Today more than ever, we wish to express that the same cultural values, which have fostered and supported our lifelong quests for peace, also command us to speak out against the violence and discrimination our fellow human beings are enduring every day solely because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.

‘By expressing our solidarity with LGBTI people around the world, we recognize the inherent dignity and human rights of all individuals, without prejudice or intolerance, and we take an important step forward in our collective journey toward peace.’

Frank Mugisha, executive director of SMUG and 2011 Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award Laureate, said: ‘It is clear that our government and Christian leaders are escalating their campaign of intimidation and harassment against the LGBTI community in Uganda.

‘We welcome the moral courage of Archbishop Tutu and other world leaders, echoing their call to allow LGBTI people to live in peace in Uganda.’

On 20 June, Simon Lokodo – the Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity – announced a ‘ban’ on 38 human rights organizations in the country for ‘promoting homosexuality’ and ‘threatening the traditions and values of the country’. The ban came two days after he ordered a raid of an LGBTI rights workshop in the capital Kampala.

Father Lokodo's actions violate the Ugandan constitution as well as the country's international obligations to respect freedom of association, assembly and expression under the African Charter for Human and Peoples' Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, activists say.

Last week, Lokodo joined other Christian leaders in calling on the Ugandan parliament to speedily pass the now infamous anti-homosexuality bill.

The bill, which includes the provision of the death penalty and mandatory reporting of LGBTI people, would also criminalize advocacy organizations and even make it a crime for clergy to speak up for gay, bi, trans and intersex people in Uganda.

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