Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Stop Uganda's gay death law

Uganda’s parliament is preparing to pass a brutal new law that would punish gay people with prison, even death.

Initial international criticism drove the president to call for a review. But after a well-funded and vicious lobbying effort by extremists, the bill looks set to be passed - threatening widespread persecution and bloodshed.

Opposition to the bill is rising, including from the Anglican church. Ugandan gay rights advocate Frank Mugisha writes: 'This law will put us in serious danger. Please sign the petition and tell others to stand with us – if there’s a huge global response, our government will see that Uganda will be internationally isolated by the proposed law, and strike it down.

With the decision expected in days, only an irresistible wave of worldwide pressure will be enough to save Frank's life and many others. At the very least we can all sign this petition, and then forward this appeal:

The petition will be delivered to Uganda's President Museveni, members of the review committee and Ugandan embassies worldwide this week, before it’s too late, as well as to key donor governments.

The bill proposes life imprisonment for anyone convicted of having same-sex relations and imposes the death penalty for 'serial offenders'. NGOs working to prevent the spread of HIV could see their employees imprisoned for up to seven years for 'promoting homosexuality'. Even members of the public face up to three years in jail if they fail to report homosexual activity to the police within 24 hours!

The bill’s advocates claim that it defends national culture, but some of its strongest critics come from within Uganda. The Reverend Canon Gideon Byamugisha is one of many. He says: 'It is violating our cultures, traditions and religious values that teach against intolerance, injustice, hatred and violence. We need laws to protect people -- not ones that will humiliate, ridicule, persecute and kill them en masse.'

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