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Ugandan activist ‘worried for supporters’ facing life in jail in gay crackdown

Ugandan activist ‘worried for supporters’ facing life in jail in gay crackdown

The speaker of the Ugandan Parliament has today fulfilled the promise she made a year ago in Canada.

Rebecca Kadaga has been a champion of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, now an act – a vicious crackdown on LGBTI people in the country.

By contrast Kadaga, while launching the human rights check list for parliamentarians, said: ‘The people of Uganda will not find comfort until the rights of all are observed.’

However today (20 December) she officiated the passing of the anti-gay bill in Uganda. Without considering the checklist she launched just a few months ago.

The anti-gay bill violates the Ugandan constitution, Commonwealth Charter 2013 and the African Charter on Human Rights to which Uganda is a signatory.

Parliamentarians ignored the rights of LGBTI people in passing this travesty.

Even though homosexuality has been illegal in Uganda since 1930s it is also going to be illegal to promote it, or involved in any activity that promotes it.

The bill will give powers to the Ugandan government to extradite any Ugandan who is perceived as involving in any promotion of homosexuality either on the internet, using mobile phones or in any other form.

This bill does not only penalize LGBTI people but also those harboring them. It requires any person in authority to report any offence related to homosexuality. It is no longer a ‘Kill the Gays’ bill but it is a ‘Jail all the Gays’ law.

The bill has created fear in the Ugandan LGBTI community all over the world. As a Ugandan LGBTI activist I am worried the Ugandan government can prosecute me, even though I am living in the United Kingdom.

We are calling on the President of Uganda not to sign this bill into law. Even though the parliament has passed the bill the president can use his powers to veto the bill, however this calls for international pressure on the Uganda.

And we are calling on the international community to help us in campaigning against this bill.

The LGBTI community has made great strides this year in gay rights in the United Kingdom, United States, France and many other countries. But in Nigeria, Uganda, DR Congo, India this month has been a disaster.

The Commonwealth should suspend India, Uganda and Nigeria for the violation of human rights. The international community offers foreign aid to these countries without even considering their violation of LGBTI rights.

It is absurd LGBTI people in the international community pay taxes used as foreign aid to Uganda.

This bill is not only about Ugandans in Uganda but also LGBTI tourists and expatriates in Uganda. The international community should put travel warnings for their LGBTI people wishing to travel to such destinations.

Also the proponents of this bill should be banned from travelling to other countries because their actions in Uganda incite homophobic hate crimes.

The world is moving on in terms of gay rights but some Commonwealth countries are moving backward.

The issue of gay rights should not only be left to those from such countries but also to the international community. UK Prime Minister David Cameron once said he will be promote same sex marriage act to the other countries however his promises have not been seen to be put in practice.

With this bill the activities of African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group are going to be illegal in Uganda. I am worried also for my members who are threatened with life imprisonment for campaigning for LGBTI rights.

The president of Uganda has always promised to uphold the constitution of Uganda and also defend the rights of the minorities. We therefore remind him this bill violates the human rights of LGBTI people in Uganda and it is his responsibility to defend them.

This bill is also giving a green light to all anti-gay vigilantes to continue persecuting LGBTI people and those perceived to be. Also it denies them access to medical services and other services for fear medical practitioners may report them to the authorities.

Today is a sad day for Uganda.