Uganda gay law regrettable – activists

2014-02-25 10:38
Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni signs a new anti-gay bill that sets harsh penalties for homosexual sex, in Entebbe, Uganda. (Rebecca Vassie, AP)

Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni signs a new anti-gay bill that sets harsh penalties for homosexual sex, in Entebbe, Uganda. (Rebecca Vassie, AP)

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Cape Town – US-based rights group RFK Centre has denounced the decision by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to sign an internationally condemned law that discriminates against homosexuals.

In a statement, the Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights criticised the Ugandan move saying it “violates the right to non-discrimination and freedom of expression”.

Museveni signed the controversial anti-gay bill on Monday and said the bill was necessary in his country because "arrogant and careless Western groups" tried to "recruit" Ugandan children into homosexuality.

This came despite warnings from Washington that Museveni was putting US relations with Kampala at risk and amid fears that aid donors could also react badly.

The anti-gay bill cruised through parliament in December after its architects agreed to drop a death penalty clause.

It holds that repeat homosexuals should be jailed for life. It also outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and legally obliges people to denounce gays to the police.

The RFK Centre said it was regrettably that Ugandan lawmakers and Museveni had “decided to criminalise an already vulnerable population rather than safeguarding equality in the country".

"SA must take a stand"

Museveni in January assured the RFK during a meeting which was also attended by Archbishop Desmond Tutu that he was going to reject the bill, calling it “fascist”.

According to RFK, Museveni had pledged “to not sign any legislation that would infringe on the equal rights of Ugandan citizens”.

Meanwhile, rights activists in South Africa say they have been shocked by the silence of the country’s leaders on the matter.

According to Eye Witness News, a prominent activist Paul Semugoma urged the SA government to take a stand and condemn what he called “draconian laws”.

Semugoma said the new provisions would make life impossible for homosexuals.

“Kissing my partner is something I can be imprisoned for life in Uganda. I can be repatriated back to Uganda if South Africa has an extradition treaty with them,” he was quoted as saying.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said it was shocking how SA had been silent about the matter, said report.

Read more on:    tac  |  yoweri museveni  |  sa  |  uganda  |  gay rights  |  east africa
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