Earlier this month, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, a Ugandan woman, won the 2011 Martin Ennas Award for Human Rights Defenders. The award is given annually by ten of the world’s leading human rights non-governmental organizations and has been referred to as the Nobel prize for human rights. Nabagesera is the founder and executive director of the LGBT rights organization Freedom and Roam Uganda.
The situation for Uganda’s LGBT community is difficult, with documented cases of discrimination, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, torture and other ill-treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Activists who work to expose such abuses are often targeted.
Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone publishes a list of the 100 “Top Homos” calling for the people to be hanged. (Photo Courtesy of San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.)
In January, Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was murdered after the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone published a list of Uganda’s 100 “Top Homos” and called for the people in the list to be hanged. Nabagesera’s name also appeared on the list.
Homosexuality is a criminal offense that carries a life sentence. On Tuesday, Parliament voted to reopen a debate over a bill that seeks to expand on the criminalization of homosexuality and make it punishable by the death penalty.
The legislation was proposed in October 2009 by Ugandan lawmaker David Bahati. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee suggested that the penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” should be the same as for “defilement,” a crime punishable by death. The bill could mandate the death penalty or life in prison for people who identify as gay or are caught engaging in homosexual acts.
The bill failed at the end of the legislative session after an international outcry directed at the nation. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the bill. More than 1.6 million people around the world signed a petition urging the Parliament to let the bill die.
Bahati said that the bill is aimed at stamping out western-imported immoral behaviors from society, protecting the moral fabric of the nation, saving the traditional family, and buttressing legislation against ‘gayism.’
Uganda is not the only African nation dealing with gay rights. Ghana and Malawi have passed laws making homosexuality illegal, while some in Zimbabwe are seeking to have gay rights included in the constitution.
Via Impunity Watch.