By Simangele Mzizi
“Turning a blind eye when people are targeted because of their real or alleged sexual orientation, makes the authorities complicit in the abuse”, so said Chris Dolan, Director of the Refugee Law Project, a member of Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law.This after gay rights groups in Uganda expressed concern about the deafening silence of political leaders while human rights violations against sexual minorities continue unabated in the heart of Yoweri Museveni’s country.
While the coalition applauded the interim High Court order issued on 1 November 2010 against the publishers of the Rolling Stone and have called for the protection of human rights for all, it said that it is unfortunate that the order, which will remain in place until the hearing on 23 November 2010 , was only issued the day after the second series of the paper containing pictures and personal details of alleged homosexuals was published on 31 October 2010.
Coalition Coordinator, Adrian Jjuuko, however said that the court order is a “positive step towards protecting all Ugandans from potential gender and sexuality based discrimination, violence and abuse which is contrary to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and the various regional and international codes and standards to which Uganda is a state party.”
Members of the Coalition have called on the government of Uganda to immediately reassure all Ugandans that they intend to protect all people against threats of violence and intimidation, regardless of their real or alleged sexual orientation.
They have also highlighted the documented cases of human rights violations in Uganda and said that these human rights violations have been committed in total violation of Uganda’s Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of “sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion, social or economic standing.”
“It is outrageous that the Ugandan government has failed to condemn discrimination, threats and violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersexed people in the country. We are living in constant fear of violence and attack”, said Kasha Jacqueline, Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG).
Reiterating the grave implications of the Anti Homosexuality Bill, which, if passed, could see homosexuals being jailed for life, the Coalition said, “substantive equality is not guaranteed to sexual minorities in Uganda, neither does the law adequately protect them from discrimination and abuse, Ugandan laws criminalise homosexuality, and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently in parliament is inherently discriminatory and threatens broader human rights.”
‘The struggles for substantive equality that we as the Coalition in Uganda are pushing for sexual minorities today are no different from the struggles that were held to end the slave trade, apartheid, racism, sexism, patriarchy and all other forms of normalised discrimination and abuse. Any form of oppression is a cycle that we must engage with and break, unless we break the chain we are all potential victims as our rights aren’t safe for long”, said Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe member of the Coalition.
Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law was established in October 2009 in response to the tabling of the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the Ugandan Parliament and to date has a membership of 28 Civil Society Organisations.
The Coalition’s primary objective is to see the Bill dropped from the Parliament’s agenda and in the long run tackle numerous issues related to human rights and constitutional law in Uganda.