The Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) has described Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill as “ill-advised and dangerous”.

In a statement issued last week, the PsySSA said that, “…it is good practice that legislation is based not on unsubstantiated opinion, but rather on recognised research findings,” and called on the Ugandan people to abandon the bill.

“The scientific fields devoted to mental health and well-being, including psychiatry, psychology and sociology, do not consider homosexual orientation to be a disorder, but rather view it as a naturally occurring variation of normal human sexuality”, added the organisation.

The statement notes that while the bill and its proponents claim that one of its primary objectives is, “…to protect the children and youths of Uganda…”, there is no credible evidence the measures called for in the bill would achieve that outcome, and would instead “result in profound physical and psychological harms to the already vulnerable lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in the very population the legislation claims to protect.”

The statement further says that, “research and clinical practice demonstrate that homosexual people have an overall potential to contribute to society similar to that of heterosexual people and that they pose no greater risk to children than do heterosexual people”.

PsySSA spokesperson and representative to the International Network on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns and Transgender Issues in Psychology, Prof Juan Nel, said: “Given the outpouring of international condemnation of the bill on largely human rights, health care and faith based grounds, it was important that an analysis based on research and clinical practice from the fields of mental health also be offered examining the core arguments being used to justify the legislation.”

Prof Nel added, “The bottom line is that while the rhetoric being used to promote this bill may make for emotionally powerful politics, it has no basis in what is actually known about the nature of sexual orientation and homosexual people.

“What’s more, based on what we know about discrimination and its consequences, the bill is in fact quite ill-advised and dangerous. That is why the Psychological Society of South Africa is releasing this statement and why we are calling on other organisations and professionals dedicated to mental health and well-being – from around the world, but particularly here in Africa – to join us by endorsing the statement.”

The full statement can be found at The Psychological Society of South Africa is the professional body representing psychologists in South Africa.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexual Bill would impose the death penalty in certain cases of people believed to have had gay sex and would further widen the scope of prison sentences and other penalties against anyone who is seen to be “promoting homosexuality”.

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