Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have urged Ugandan MPs to reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which may come up for a vote in parliament as soon as today.
The bill has been the subject of public hearings before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee in recent days. According to the groups, the Parliamentary Order Paper of 10 May indicates that the bill could be debated by the Parliament and come up for a vote on May 11.
“It is deeply alarming that the Ugandan parliament is again considering this appalling bill, which flies in the face of human decency and violates international human rights law,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa.
The author of the bill, David Bahati, a member of parliament from the ruling party, has suggested that some provisions could be amended or deleted but there is no new draft so the content of the potential amendments remains unknown.
The recent rush to move the bill forward is particularly troubling in light of recent protests against government spending and corruption, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said.
Since early April, many Ugandans have taken to the streets in “Walk to Work” protests over high commodity and fuel prices. The government has deployed the military and the police in Kampala, Gulu, and other parts of the country to quell demonstrations.
The security forces’ response has been marked by brutality; at least nine people have been killed by gunshots in situations in which the use of lethal force was unnecessary.
“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the government’s violent crackdown on peaceful protests seen in recent weeks are evidence of a diminishing space for human rights in Uganda,” said Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch. “We strongly urge the Ugandan parliament to reject the bill immediately.”
At the recent public consultations on the pending bill, activists spoke up in criticism of the many repugnant provisions. “Am I going to be hanged for being who I am?” said Kasha Jacqueline, winner of the 2011 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.
“Not only would the bill institutionalise discrimination against those who are, or who are thought to be, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, if this bill is passed, it could be interpreted as an official incitement to commit violence against LGBT people,” Reid said.
On Thursday, Britain’s Foreign Secretary ,William Hague, said that Britain opposes the bill “and will continue to raise our concerns with Ugandan government. We urge Ugandan MPs to reject it”.