Special focus on Uganda

The rights, well-being and safety of LGBTI persons are under perpetual threat in Uganda, where neither the laws nor the social and political atmospheres support LGBTI existence. A great deal of anti-LGBTI violations find their sources within Uganda’s Penal Code, which contains three key articles that criminalize homosexual activity. According to Article 140,“carnal knowledge against the order of nature” is a criminal act, deserving of a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Article 141 punishes “attempts” at carnal knowledge with a maximum sentence of seven years of imprisonment and in a similar manner Article 143 outlaws acts of “gross indecency,” imposing a penalty of up to five years of imprisonment. Despite the clear-cut condemnation of sodomy laws by the OHCHR Human Rights Committee, Articles 140, 141 and 143 remain intact and operational in Uganda.
The threat to LGBTI rights and well-being that is produced through the inclusion of sodomy laws in the Ugandan Penal Code cannot be underestimated; sodomy laws are not only inherently discriminatory by their very existence, but they also promote further discrimination against LGBTI persons by fostering and legitimising a climate of intolerance, including harassment, violence and murder.
The rights of same-sex practising people in Uganda are further threatened by the State’s HIV/AIDS “Abstinence-until-Marriage” policy, which reflects the inherently discriminatory attitude of the Government and society towards LGBTI people, and which has an extremely detrimental effect on their ability and right to receive adequate healthcare. Abstinence-until-marriage programs promote abstinence as the only effective measure against the transmission of HIV/AIDS, thereby resulting in disproportionate HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment for individuals practicing same-gender sexual relations. By denying young Ugandans information about alternative methods of HIV prevention, Uganda’s HIV/AIDS policies neglect the particular concerns of same-sex practicing people, thereby denying members of this community their inherent right to health. This denial is by no means accidental; in November 2004, the government of Uganda warned UNAIDS not to assist sexual minorities in organizing a campaign reaching out to the members of the LGBTI community to stem HIV infections.
The tragic result of Uganda’s current HIV/AIDS policy is a government-sponsored denial of treatment and services on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, and ultimately, the proliferation of unsafe sexual practices and increased HIV rates among Uganda’s same-sex practicing population.
On 14 October 2009, MP David Bahati introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the Parliament of Uganda, which stipulates the death penalty for repeated same-sex relations and life imprisonment for all other homosexual acts. Moreover, any official who fails to report an offender to the police within 24 hours will face three years in jail. Likewise, the promotion of homosexuality carries a sentence of five to seven years in jail.
At its core, this Bill is an expression of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence; it abuses the dignity, privacy and equality of people with differing sexual orientations and gender identities. It has promoted hate-speech in churches, in schools and in the media. It has led to defamation, blackmail, evictions, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, and emotional, mental and physical assault of LGBTI activists, families and allies.
The impact of such legal and social exclusion is being felt in the lives of LGBTI Ugandans on a daily basis.

For more information about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, please click on the following Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Bill