Uganda’s Homosexuality Law Violates Health, Life Rights- UNAIDS

MP Asuman Basalirwa drafted the anti-homosexuality Bill. Courtesy Pic

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality passed by parliament on Tuesday is a violation of rights to life and health according to United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS has warned. In a statement released on Thursday, UNAIDS East and Southern Africa Director, Anne Githuku- Shongwe, said the law that now waits for President Yoweri Museveni’s approval will have extremely damaging consequences.

Githuku said the impacts will be majorly related to health since the law would curtail the human rights of people living with HIV and some of the most vulnerable people of Uganda to access life-saving services. 

“If enacted, this law will undermine Uganda’s efforts to end AIDS by 2030, by violating fundamental human rights including the right to health and the very right to life. It will drive communities away from life-saving services, and obstruct health workers, including civil society groups, from providing HIV prevention, testing, and treatment,” Githuku said.

UNAIDS has argued that there is crystal clear evidence that institutionalized discrimination sparks stigma and further pushes vulnerable communities away from life-saving health services.

Githuku cites research in sub-Saharan Africa that shows that in countries that criminalize homosexuality HIV prevalence is five times higher among men who have sex with men than it is in countries without such laws. Thus, UNAIDS observed that by undermining public health, this law will be bad for everyone.  

“This law, if enacted, will hurt Ugandans. It will cost lives and it will drive up new HIV infections. We urge Government to not enact this harmful law,” UNAIDS said.  

UNAIDS said the law would impose a penalty of life imprisonment for homosexual acts and the death penalty for so-called “aggravated offences”. The passed law includes a duty to report acts of homosexuality, with failure to do so punishable by up to 6 months in prison. 

 UNAIDS elaborates that the harmful law stands in marked contrast to a positive wave of decriminalization taking place in Africa and across the world, in which harmful punitive colonial legislation is being removed in the country after country. Rights bodies believe decriminalisation saves lives and benefits everyone. 

Githuku said although the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been passed by parliament, it is not yet enacted as a law and can, in the interest of promoting public health and equal rights of Ugandan citizens, be rejected by the President. It is not too late for this Bill to be rejected and lives to be saved.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *