Legal advocates U.S. work to save lives by breaking Ugandan ‘anti-gay’ bill

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Anti-gay rally Uganda
A sign held by a protester in an anti-gay rally in Kampala, Uganda shows the extreme and dangerous level of hatred against minority homosexuals in the region.

(WNN) NEW YORK, U.S.: In a backlash with legislative initiatives in Uganda’s Parliament in what many advocates say is “the denial of human rights” to homosexual minorities in the region, the death penalty has been reinstated in a bill that has been brought back to the table. The provision specifically asks that the death penalty be given to those involved with “aggravated homosexuality.”

In a response to what has been called the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda, Africa, New York based non-profit legal and educational organization the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said, “This bill would impose the death penalty for a second conviction of sex between two people of the same gender, or for a single conviction of an HIV-positive person having sex with a person of the same gender. Anyone convicted of a single homosexual act would face life imprisonment. The bill would further require family members, medical personnel, clergy and others to report to the authorities people they suspect of being gay, or face substantial prison time themselves.”

Created in 1966 by attorneys working to legally defend black civil rights activists and leaders in the Southern region of the United States, the Center for Constitutional Rights has used ‘innovative legal strategies,’ often on the breaking edge to guarantee the rights of those suffering from misrepresentation and exclusion. Human rights for those who usually ‘fall through the cracks’ are part of CCR’s legal mission with cases for protections under the law for a diverse array of people who include U.S. based animal rights activists, Iraqi civilians, Nigerian activists, an organization of deaf-and-hard-of-hearing New Yorkers and members of various civil rights and immigrant justice organizations.

“The [Uganda] bill would also completely ban activities which could be construed as ‘promoting homosexuality,’ such as writing, speaking, demonstrating or otherwise advocating for LGBTI rights. Landlords who rent to LGBTI persons would face seven years in prison,” added the CCR.

Originally introduced in 2009, the Ugandan bill was later shelved amid international outcry and a brave and inspiring grassroots response in Uganda led by the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).

The bill was first introduced by publicly acknowledged anti-gay parliamentarian David Bahati in 2009 following a controversial meeting in Kampala attended by a U.S.-based evangelical group called ‘The Fellowship.’

“This bill is part of a broader context of oppression and violence against LGBTI people in Uganda. Homosexuality is already a crime there, and the persecution of Ugandans on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity has already cost lives and given rise to grave human rights violations,” said the CCR in a recent statement.

“We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it’s here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda,” said U.S. President Barack Obama commenting on his feelings of tolerance and the issues surrounding the Ugandan bill during the February 4, 2010 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

“The reintroduction of this bill – regardless of whether it ultimately becomes law – serves to intensify this climate of hatred and persecution of the Ugandan LGBTI community,” says the CCR.

On January 26, 2011, outspoken gay advocate and activist David Kato, who was also an openly gay man in living in Uganda with public acclaim as a global hero, was murdered in his home in Kampala. His murder followed a long-standing stream of death threats.

Following the killing of Kato, Ugandan lesbian Ms. Brenda Namigadde received a temporary reprieve on January 28, 2011 at the twilight hour as she faced a UK-based court ordered deportation. Brenda had moved to the UK after years of problems in her home in Uganda, which included the burning down of her home and violence against her and her girlfriend, a national from Canada.

In an effort to seek asylum Namigadde instead remained as an ‘illegal’ immigrant in the UK. Namigadde was just about to board her escort plane that was set to send her back to Uganda when a temporary stay of deportation was given.  “I’ll be tortured, or killed, if I’m sent back to Uganda. They’ve put people like me to death there… If I can stay here in the UK I can continue my studies, live my life freely, openly, without fear,” said Namigadde.


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