Uganda Anti-LGBT Bill Becomes Law, Violating Rights of LGBT People

NEW YORK, NY-American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading Jewish international development and human rights organization, today condemned Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law as a violation of the basic human rights of Uganda’s LGBT people. The Anti-Homosexuality Law contains many harsh and inhumane provisions, including life imprisonment for same-sex sexual behavior. It also criminalizes the so-called “promotion of homosexuality,” which includes funding organizations that provide health and other services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people or promoting the legal and human rights of LGBT people.

“By signing this draconian bill into law, President Museveni has demonstrated his disregard for the fundamental human rights of Ugandan citizens and has sanctioned hate and discrimination toward LGBT Ugandans,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS. “This is a cynical maneuver by President Museveni to consolidate his political power at the expense of the lives and dignity of LGBT Ugandans.

“AJWS’s partners in Uganda are not giving up without a fight. A broad-based coalition of organizations is prepared to challenge the constitutionality of the Anti-Homosexuality Law in court. We are proud to support these organizations and stand by them in these efforts.”

Messinger reiterated her call for Secretary of State John Kerry to recall the U.S. ambassador to Uganda so the administration can evaluate the future of our diplomatic relationships with the country.

“Jewish faith teaches us that there is an inherent dignity in every person that must be respected. But worldwide, LGBT people are not afforded that dignity. They are ostracized, threatened and assaulted just for living their lives. It is our responsibility to take action to ensure that the human rights of LGBT people are upheld,” Messinger said.

In addition to its harsh direct penalties on LGBT people themselves, the Anti-Homosexuality Law will have several other indirect detrimental effects on the organizations AJWS supports in Uganda, including:

  • Loss of legal status for organizations serving or promoting the rights of LGBT people
  • Prison sentences of seven years for the directors of LGBT organizations
  • Preventing outreach to LGBT people to connect them to critical services
  • Sanctioning acts of violence perpetrated against LGBT people and the organizations that support them

Over the past five years, AJWS has granted more than $800,000 to support Ugandan social justice organizations. With AJWS’s support, they are promoting equality and working to end discrimination and violence against people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, so that they can access the full spectrum of opportunities in society and live in health, safety and dignity.

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