A grassroots coalition LGBTQI+ rights, health, and asylum groups are demonstrating today at 5.30pm outside of the Ugandan High Commission in London as part of a Global Day of Action against “one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world” that would isolate Uganda as one of the most dangerous places in the world for LGBTQ+ people to live, visit, or do business.
Alongside joint protests also at the Ugandan embassy in Washington, D.C. and in front of Uganda’s permanent mission to the United Nations and online, activists are acting in solidarity with Ugandan LGBTQI+ community groups, and calling out the anti-African, anti-human rights attack and demanding President Museveni block the legislation.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, AHB23, is being sent back to parliament for amendments, following which it is expected to be signed into law by President Museveni.
The legislation calls for punishments of life in prison for sex acts between adults of the same sex, the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” 20 years in prison for the “promotion of homosexuality,” 10 years in prison for “attempted homosexuality,” and 6 months in prison or a fine of $28,000 for failing to report someone believed to violate any provision of the bill.
The bill would devastate the HIV response, criminalising lifesaving services.
Clare Byarugaba, Human Rights Activist at Chapter Four Uganda and Co-Convener of Convening for Equality said:
“As a proud lesbian Ugandan woman who loves her country and who has fought homophobia and transphobia my entire life, let me be clear that this bill is designed to eliminate people like me from my home country and it must be defeated.
AHB23 will further legalise and incite deadly violence and institutionalise discrimination against my community. Our life, human dignity and freedom is on the line.
The solidarity shown by activists and community members worldwide on this day of action is essential in this fight; we must reiterate to Museveni that the world is watching and will not stay silent as our human rights are trampled on.”
Edwin Sesange of the African Equality Foundation, who is from Uganda and lives in London, stated that:
“Uganda must respect human rights, uphold the values of the Commonwealth Charter and stop exercising impunity and immunity with its persecution of LGBTI people.
Not only does this bill violate human rights, it is a public health threat that would decimate the HIV response in Uganda, criminalising the provision of lifesaving HIV services. It must fail.”
Many Ugandans living in the UK who wanted to join the demonstration said they couldn’t due to fears it could impact their asylum claims in the UK.
Leila Zadeh, Executive Director of Rainbow Migration, said:
“Today we want to show our solidarity with Ugandan LGBTQI+ activists and demand that the Anti Homosexuality Bill is not assented to by the President.
But even without this new Bill, LGBTQI+ people are at risk in Uganda and may seek asylum here. We therefore also urge the UK government to scrap its cruel anti-asylum bill, instead of making it even harder for LGBTQI+ people to find safety in the UK.”
Moud Goba, Chair of the Board of Trustees of UK Black Pride said of UK solidarity efforts:
“Members of the UK LGBTQ+ community stand in solidarity with all those at risk of harm under this cruel bill that, if passed, will empower more homophobia beyond Uganda.
Hate knows no borders but neither does solidarity; we refuse to let this attack on human rights go unchallenged.”
Legislation similar to AHB23 was successfully blocked ten years ago following massive international outcry.
- The demonstration is running from 5.30pm to 6.30pm at Uganda House, the Ugandan High Commission, 58 – 59 Trafalgar Sq, St. James’s, London WC2N 5DX
- The Biden administration has called the legislation “one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world.
- The legislation has been pushed and funded by the same U.S. evangelical fundamentalists behind over 385 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the U.S. as well as copycat efforts in Kenya and beyond. Sources at CNN and Foreign Policy.
- Impact on the HIV response: In countries that criminalise same-sex behaviour, gay men are more than three times less likely to know their HIV status than others in countries with the least repressive laws (UNAIDS). The bill will completely criminalise HIV services and frontline workers, and despite not being passed yet is already having an effect.
- The grassroots coalition of LGBTQI+ rights, health, and asylum groups supporting the UK action in various capacities include the UK Alliance for Global Equality, UK Black Pride, Africa Advocacy Forum, African Equality Foundation, House of Rainbow, Living Free UK, ACT-UP London, Rainbow Migration, Out & Proud African LGBTI Charity, Peter Tatchell Foundation, Global Justice Now and STOPAIDS.
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