25 February 2014

Uganda: Ban Urges Uganda to Repeal Anti-Homosexuality Law

Photo: Katherine Fairfax Wright/IPS
UN condemns the publishing of gay names in Uganda (file photo).

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged Ugandan authorities to revise or repeal the country's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, one day after he said it violates basic human rights and endangers lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the country.

"The Secretary-General reiterates that everyone is entitled to enjoy the same basic rights and live a life of worth and dignity without discrimination," his spokesperson said, adding that this concept is embedded in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Ugandan Constitution.

President Yoweri Museveni yesterday signed into law the bill which calls for a 14-year jail term for a first conviction and imprisonment for life for the offence of "aggravated homosexuality".

Mr. Ban convoyed his concerns yesterday about the bill, which was not yet signed at the time, to Ambassador Richard Nduhuura, Permanent Representative of Uganda to the UN, and has expressed the UN's support "to achieve change on this matter".

Both he and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay have decried the principles of the law which "could fuel prejudice as well as encourage harassment and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons".

In today's statement, Mr. Ban's spokesperson noted that Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), also spoke out against the law saying it may obstruct effective responses to the virus.

Mr. Ban has appealed for the complete and universal decriminalization of homosexuality, still a criminal offence in some 76 countries, stressing that human rights must always trump cultural attitudes and societal strictures.

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