LGBTQ and intersex rights groups across Africa have condemned the signing of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act that calls for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.”
Mpho Buntse, a spokesperson for Access Chapter 2, a South African LGBTQ and intersex advocacy organization, said it was very worrisome the South African government did not condemn the law, even though the country is the only one on the continent that fully upholds LGBTQ and intersex rights.
“It has really been apparent that South Africa would rather protect its diplomatic relations rather than impose on the sovereignty of a country like Uganda. However, we are not dealing with an issue of economic or financial diplomacy, but we are dealing with a human rights crisis. We are dealing with a situation where we could see potential violence being subjected to the LGBTQ+ community in Uganda, but not only to the LGBTQ+ community but the rest of the Ugandan population stands to be affected by this law because even if you don’t identify as LGBTQ+ you will be compelled to report to the state those that you know that identify as LGBTQ+,” said Buntse. “So we find it really problematic that we choose to be just spectators when we could or potentially have played an active role from the start of this.”
Buntse noted Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act on Monday, was in South Africa in late February.
“We didn’t seize the opportunity to play an active role, so South Africa is always on a missed opportunity where we are now seeing a country to be a spectator instead of being an ally of the LGBTQ+ community,” added Buntse.
Bruce Walker of Pretoria Pride, another South African advocacy group, said he was not surprised by the government’s stance.
“They are showing their true colors,” said Walker. “The governing party is full of homophobes. It’s written in the constitution, the rights for the LGBTQI+ community, but they never support the LGBTQI+ community. They flatly ignore it. You either support and respect our constitution or not but as it stands they do not. They are far too scared to take a stand.”
Gays And Lesbians of Zimbabwe also condemned the law, saying it violates human rights.
“This law blatantly violates the human rights of LGBTQ individuals in Uganda including the right to privacy, freedom from discrimination and the right to equal protection under the law We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ugandan LGBTQ community through this difficult time,” said GALZ in a statement. “We call on the Ugandan leadership to engage in constructive dialogue, and to work towards solutions that are inclusive and respectful to all individuals.”
Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana, like GALZ, also condemned the law and expressed solidarity with LGBTQ and intersex Ugandans.
“It’s a great disappointed to have the president assent the Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” said LEGABIBO. “To all LGBTIQ+ identifying persons in Uganda, we stand in solidarity with you.”
East Africa Trans Health and Advocacy Network also castigated the law. EATHAN, like LEGABIBO and GALZ, said it will continue to stand up for LGBTQ and intersex rights in Uganda.
“Sad day for LGBTIQ Ugandans. We stand with our trans, intersex and nonbinary Ugandans and the entire LGBTIQ community. We must keep fighting and have the law declared unconstitutional,” said EATHAN.
We Are All Ghana, a Ghanaian LGBTQ and intersex rights group, in its reaction said the community in Uganda and across Africa should not be silenced.
“As we stand in solidarity with the Ugandan queer community, let us remind ourselves as the Ghanaian LGBTQ+ community and Africans as a whole that we must not allow ourselves to be bullied into silence. our rights are as human as anyone else’s,” said We Are All Ghana.
Shemerirwe Agnes, executive director of Africa Queer Network, a Uganda-based advocacy group, said there was nothing anyone or any particular organization could have done to dissuade Museveni from signing the bill.
“We are being attacked and killed since that bill was passed because the society and the police thought that just because that bill was passed it was now law so one would think that just because it’s now law then it’s now going to be implemented,” said Agnes. “It was implemented even before it was signed into law there is nothing we can do now because President Museveni doesn’t listen to anyone.”
U.S. President Joe Biden is among those who have also condemned the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
The White House has announced it will “evaluate” the law’s implications and how it may impact U.S. aid to Uganda. Advocacy groups, meanwhile, have challenged the Anti-Homosexuality Act in the Ugandan Constitutional Court.
Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.
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