U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Urging Uganda to Reject Anti-Homosexuality Bill


U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Urging Uganda to Reject Anti-Homosexuality Bill

April 15, 2010

On April 14, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution introduced by U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) calling on members of the Ugandan Parliament to reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The bill, which was introduced to the Ugandan Parliament in October 2009, promotes hate and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Ugandans by strengthening existing penalties against homosexuality, making same-sex relations punishable by prison or even death. Among its many dangerous provisions, a person who fails to report within 24 hours the identity of anyone perceived to be LGBTI or who supports the human rights of LGBTI individuals would be subject to up to three years imprisonment.

"I am glad that so many political, religious and civic leaders in Uganda and around the world have spoken out against this hateful and dangerous bill before the Ugandan Parliament," said Senator Feingold, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, in a press release. Feingold continued, "Sadly, this legislation is just one example of actions taken around the world to restrict the rights of people just because of their gender or sexual orientation. We need to speak out consistently against all such discrimination. The Senate's passage of this resolution begins to move us in that direction and I will continue working with my colleagues and the administration to continue to address this issue."

In addition to condemning the proposed legislation in Uganda, the bipartisan resolution also urges all countries around the world to reject and repeal similar laws that criminalize homosexuality, and encourages the United States Department of State to closely monitor human rights abuses based on sexual orientation. In addition to the proposed bill in Uganda, there are laws on the books in nations around the world criminalizing homosexuality. In several countries including Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, the penalty for homosexuality includes the death penalty.

In January 2010, AJWS established the Urgent LGBTI Uganda Fund to support Ugandan grassroots organizations working to defend the rights of sexual minorities. Over the past several months, AJWS has also mobilized an interfaith coalition to speak out against LGBTI human rights abuses in Uganda. Over 90 clergy and faith-based leaders signed on to an AJWS's congressional letter asking U.S. legislators to swiftly condemn the bill. The results of these efforts have not gone unnoticed.

"The senate resolution is a huge step forward," said AJWS director of advocacy, Timi Gerson. "We are very proud of the senators who took necessary action to support global human rights and we are eager to support their continued efforts."