Kay Marshall, +1 (347) 249-6375, firstname.lastname@example.org
March 24, 2023 — This week, Ugandan Parliament took steps toward implementing an anti-gay policy change that would further criminalize and endanger the lives of LGBTQIA+ people. AVAC condemns the proposed legislation and stands in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community in Uganda who face threats to their lives, draconian prison terms, and even the prospect of death sentences if this legislation goes forward.
“This new legislation is a direct violation of the health, rights and humanity of the LGBTQIA+ community, and we urge President Yoweri Museveni not to sign it into law,” said Angelo Kaggwa-Katumba, Senior Program Manager at AVAC. “As LGBTQIA+ people and allies, we’ve been tireless in our work to change attitudes and policy – in Uganda and around the world – because we’ve seen the direct link between criminalization and stigma and the devastating impact both have on HIV incidence. This new legislation duplicates and expands on a previous attempt to legislate hate and oppression of the LGBTQIA+ community in Uganda nearly a decade ago. That legislation was overturned by the Constitutional Court, and we hope to see justice upheld again.”
This “Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023”, passed earlier this week by the Uganda Parliament, makes it a crime to even identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, and gives authorities sweeping power to crackdown on any form of LGBTQIA+ advocacy. This new bill, criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults, is a harsher revision to Uganda’s 2014 Homosexuality Act, which outlawed the “promotion of homosexuality,” but was struck down. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni now has a 30-day window to either approve the bill, return it to Parliament for reevaluation, or veto it – or, by not acting, the bill will be considered approved.
“We are seeing a tsunami of discrimination and oppression of basic human rights around the world right now,” said Mitchell Warren, AVAC executive director. “The proposed anti-gay bill in Uganda is the latest in a wave of anti-LGBTQIA+ actions in several countries, from arrests in Zambia to a backlash in Kenya, to anti-trans laws in several US states and elsewhere, all of which threaten lives and livelihoods, and our ability to connect key populations with the resources they need and deserve to prevent and treat HIV and to live their fullest lives. If we don’t deal with the fundamental reality of stigma, discrimination and criminalization, we will never end the epidemic.”
In Zambia, police arrested leaders of an approved demonstration condemning violence against women in observance of International Women’s Day. Authorities claimed the protest was promoting LGBTQIA+ rights. Same-sex sexual acts have been prohibited under Zambia law since the British colonial period. In Kenya, a February decision by its Supreme Court to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation when it comes to registering LGBTQIA+ organizations has been followed by intense homophobic backlash. The uproar comes as a high court decision that criminalized same sex relationships is being appealed. The US is similarly swept up in a period of terrorizing legislation dismantling the rights of gender diverse populations and threatening their well being. Overall, 2023 has seen a record number of bills in states across the US that target LGBTQIA+ people.
“We stand ready to support the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies in every way that will not only help them survive this moment, but overcome these challenges to turn the tide from hate and fear to global health equity for all,” Warren added.
About AVAC: Founded in 1995, AVAC is a non-profit organization that uses education, policy analysis, advocacy and a network of global collaborations to accelerate the ethical development and global delivery of HIV prevention options as part of a comprehensive response to the pandemic. Follow AVAC on Twitter @HIVpxresearch and find more at www.avac.org and www.prepwatch.org.