[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a statement [text] Tuesday condemning recent anti-gay actions by the government of Uganda [BBC backgrounder]. The statement came in response to a number of adverse actions against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists in the nation. Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo shut down an LGBT workshop on Tuesday by advocacy group Freedom and Roam, declaring it illegal and trying to arrest the leader. That incident occured shortly after the Parliament of Uganda [official website] brought back a controversial anti-gay bill [JURIST report] that would raise the penalty for homosexual acts from 14 years to life in prison. AI contends that Uganda’s increasing persecution of the LGBT community is in violation of international law.
The Government of Uganda must protect all people against threats, violence and harassment irrespective of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. […] The Government’s claimed opposition to the Bill needs to be supported through their actions. The Ugandan government must allow legitimate, peaceful gatherings of human rights defenders, including those working on LGBT rights.
Parliament agreed to drop [JURIST report] the death penalty clause in the bill earlier this month. Since the bill was reintroduced there have been allegations of escalating violence against perceived homosexuals.
Uganda faces an ongoing struggle with anti-gay sentiment in the country. In November the Ugandan High Court sentenced a man to 30 years in prison for beating to death prominent gay rights activist David Kato. In January 2011 the Ugandan High Court issued a permanent injunction and awarded damages to three plaintiffs who were among 100 people alleged to be homosexuals by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper, The Rolling Stone. In January 2010 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay criticized the original anti-gay legislation, saying that it could harm Uganda’s reputation internationally. In February 2010, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly denounced the proposed legislation [JURIST reports].