By Melanie Nathan, February, 23, 2012
The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has warned that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, if enacted into law in its current state, would institutionalize discrimination against those ‘who are, or thought to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender’ and have noted that it would be contrary to human rights.
The Bill would criminalize the so called “promotion” of homosexuality, compel HIV testing and in certain circumstances impose life sentences for entering into same-sex marriages, introduce the death penalty for “aggravated” homosexuality (whatever that means) as well as punish those who fail to turn in those who have committed violations under the statute with 24 hours of the “crime.”
ULS is an umbrella organization for Ugandan attorneys and seeks to defend constitutionalism, the rule of law and human rights for all citizens.
In contrast to the proponents of the Bill, such as its author David Bahati , who touts its importance as protecting the fabric of Ugandan society, as protecting children, the current ULS president, Mr James Mukasa Sebugenyi, has finally come out to say that it would violate freedoms and interfere with privacy rights of Ugandans. Sebugenyi was quick to note that he was not promoting homosexuality but rather speaking to protect a minority.
The irony of this statement is that if the Bill was already law, even the ULS President could be charged thereunder for violating the (yet to pass) statute by promoting homosexuality. Any word or free speech such as exercised by the head of the law society, that protects the freedom to privacy of homosexuals, or which speaks against such a law, could feasibly be misconstrued under the word “promotion.”
Sebugenyi added, “We reckon that the spirit of the bill is for noble and moral intentions such as to protect the traditional family, children, youth and cherished cultural values among others. It should however be alive to the fact that we live in a multi–lateral society comprised of various rights, interests and freedoms and should either be tolerated, restricted but not criminalized or banished.”
At this time the Ugandan Law Society is speaking out before the law is passed, but if it is passed they could be silenced forever on the subject. What a thought! Even defending clients could be construed as promotion under the widely non-defined term “promotion.”