The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou, received information that on 24 February 2014, “The Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014” was promulgated in the Republic of Uganda.
The Special Rapporteur notes that some of the provisions of the Act, in particular Section 13, prohibit, on penalty of imprisonment, the promotion of homosexuality and provide that the certificate of registration of any association or international organization which violates the Act shall be cancelled.
Such a law is likely to endanger the life and safety of persons alleged to belong to sexual minorities, as well as human rights defenders working on this issue, since it undermines their activities and freedom of expression, association and assembly, all of which are rights guaranteed by the Ugandan Constitution, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in particular Articles 2, 9, 10 and 11.
The Special Rapporteur is deeply concerned by the cases of intimidation and threats against some persons considered as Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered (LGBT) following the promulgation of the law. She further notes that some newspapers are already publishing the names and photographs of individuals considered as homosexuals, a situation which further increases the feeling of insecurity among the persons concerned.
The Special Rapporteur regrets the promulgation of the law whose consequences seriously undermine the work of human rights defenders and endanger the safety of sexual minorities who are already vulnerable as a result of social prejudice. She strongly condemns any interference in the privacy of these individuals as well as acts of violence and harassment they are subjected to.
The Special Rapporteur urges the Ugandan authorities to take the necessary measures to abrogate or amend the law.
She reminds the Ugandan Government of its international obligations, including those under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
She calls on the Ugandan Government to take the necessary steps for the effective protection of all persons against discrimination and violence, regardless of their sexual orientation, and to maintain an atmosphere of tolerance towards sexual minorities in the country.
The Special Rapporteur further calls on the Ugandan authorities to ensure that human rights defenders work in an enabling environment that is free of stigma, reprisals or criminal prosecution as a result of their human rights protection activities, including the rights of sexual minorities.
By the same token, she encourages the Ugandan political authorities to continue dialogue on this sensitive issue of homosexuality in Africa.
The Special Rapporteur urges the Ugandan Government to spare no effort to ensure the security and physical integrity of all human rights defenders in Uganda.
Banjul, 10 March 2014