American Jewish World Service Applauds Victory of Ugandan Human Rights Activists
NEW YORK, NY—American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading Jewish international development and human rights organization, today congratulates advocates of human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Uganda for their hard-won victory in persuading Uganda’s constitutional court to overturn the Anti-Homosexuality law passed by the Ugandan Parliament in December 2013 and signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February 2014. According to the organization LGBTQ Funders, AJWS is the 4th largest U.S.-based funder of international human rights advocacy for LGBT people. Over the past five years, AJWS has provided $800,000 in support of activists in Uganda, including several involved in winning today’s legal victory.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality law contained many harsh and inhumane provisions, including life imprisonment for same-sex sexual behavior. It also criminalized the so-called “promotion of homosexuality,” which includes funding organizations that provide health and other services to LGBT people or promoting the legal and human rights of LGBT people.
Statement by Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS
“Standing up against state-sanctioned hate takes tremendous courage, and we applaud the human rights advocates in Uganda who won a hard-fought legal victory in persuading their country’s highest court to overturn the draconian Anti-Homosexuality law, which punishes LGBT people and any Ugandans who support the dignity and rights of LGBT people,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS.
“We congratulate our partners and other activists in Uganda for persevering in this fight despite tremendous risk to themselves, the repressive nature of the anti-homosexuality law, and the many acts of state-sanctioned hate and individual violence against LGBT people in Uganda.
“We congratulate the lawyers who won this case with tremendous skill and hard work, including the legal teams working for Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum and Chapter Four Uganda. Moreover, we applaud the human rights activists who have fought this harmful legislation for the past five years, which disregarded the fundamental human rights of Ugandan citizens and sanctioned hate and discrimination toward LGBT Ugandans.
“These skilled and brave activists have underscored the important role and leadership of Uganda’s independent judiciary.
“The fight against this harsh and inhumane law will likely continue, and we will support and stand by our partners as they advocate for the human rights of all Ugandans,” added Messinger.
In addition to its harsh direct penalties on LGBT people themselves, the Anti-Homosexuality law posed several other threats to 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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David L. Marcus