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Saturday, 10 December 2011

Uganda’s LGBTI leaders speak passionately for their human rights

English: Human Rights logo: "FREE AS A MA...
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by Melanie Nathan

Calls for Dignity and Justice for all : Reject the Anti-homosexuality bill  ( Kill the gays Bill) that is still pending, as this would further heighten the witch-hunt of LGBTI persons and make it impossible for us to live freely and safely in our country.

The Ugandan LGBTI leadership and community take great risks each and every day – just by being who they are. Now at even great risk they issue this impassioned plea to Ugandans to abide by the Declaration of Human Rights and to respect their natural born orientation.
Today the Ugandan LGBTI community joins millions of other Ugandans in commemorating the International Human Rights Day. This day is a time for people worldwide to reflect about the meaning, importance and need for human rights. It is an occasion for the government and people of Uganda to re-commit themselves to the spirit and letter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which we are a signatory.

The theme of the 2011 International Human Rights Day, Dignity and Justice for all of us, is especially important for the LGBTI community in Uganda particularly in the wake of increased hate speech and hate-inciting legislation against sexual minorities, which has resulted in mass hateful uprisings and demonstrations, direct harassment, violence and loss of life of human rights activists advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Ugandans. These violations deprive sexual minorities of the dignity and justice guaranteed to all peoples under the UDHR.

As we celebrate this year’s International Human Rights Day, the LGBTI community in Uganda recommits to working towards a more inclusive and tolerant society that will ensure that every Ugandan lives in peace and with dignity, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We emphatically stress on this day that LGBTI rights are human rights and not special rights. 
We stress that human rights as stipulated by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights are God-given and inherent. It is a violation of those God-given rights to witch-hunt LGBTI individuals and make us scapegoats for all the moral and social problems that the nation is contending with. It is a violation of our human rights to deny us the right to live peacefully and contribute to the social, economic, and political progress of our country. It is also a violation of our human rights to deny us the right to access appropriate health care and education, and force us to change from our God given sexual orientations and gender diversities.

In light of this the LGBTI community denounces the government’s complacent position and continued refusal to accord LGBTI Ugandans equal access to the human and civil rights every other Ugandan is entitled to under the Constitution, and for continuing to make same sex relationships criminal.

“LGBTI rights are part of the broader human rights and it is just a matter of time that Uganda will accept these rights” Frank Mugisha Executive Director Sexual Minorities Uganda – SMUG and 2011 Laureate Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award
It is our fervent belief that the promotion of human dignity shall remain hollow unless we transform our social and political attitudes to eliminate hate and ensure tolerance for diversity. 
“Had the UN stepped up to protect and respect LGBTI rights in the last 63yrs we wouldn’t have experienced this misery. However I’m glad that they have realized and resolved to openly discuss LGBTI issues in the coming Human Right Council. I hope and really hope that this is the beginning of a very successful campaign around the world to respect and decriminalize LGBTI rights”  Kasha Jacqueline Executive Director Freedom and Roam Uganda, 2011 Laureate Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award. 
On the 2011 International Human Rights Day, the LGBTI community calls on the Parliament of Uganda to: 
Reject the anti-homosexuality bill that is still pending, as this would further heighten the witch-hunt of LGBTI persons and make it impossible for us to live freely and safely in our country. This legislation incites unnecessary hatred in the communities where we live and makes us daily targets for hate crimes. 
Urgently repeal the obsolete penal code which makes us criminals for being who we are. LGBTI Ugandans must be allowed to determine their destiny by living their God-given sexual orientations and identities because these do not contravene the rights of any other Ugandan.
Further in alluding to the fact that Ugandan LGBTI people may well be scapegoats for a dictator who is not doing enough for a poverty stricken country where corruption is rampant and torture and rigged elections thwarts opposition,  the statement concludes:
“The LGBTI community in Uganda calls on both government and the people of Uganda to take the requisite measures, consistent with our Constitution, to speedily move towards true democratization in Uganda. We must all take action to fight poverty, inequality and instability and establish true peace, security, dignity and justice for all Ugandans.”
This plea by the Ugandan community is specially poignant in light of the recent international call for decriminalization of homosexuality all through Africa, where the United States and United kingdom have come out with harsh statements that support Africa’s sexual minorities. The Ugandan community fears backlash  from threats of consequences such as withholding of AID or boycotts to their country.  However all is being said now in the hope that Ugandan parliamentarians will indeed refrain from enactment of the Kill the gays Bill.
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