For Immediate Release:

Friday May 13, 2011

Avaaz Welcomes Decision to Drop Brutal Uganda Anti-Gay Law


Two million people take action to stop Uganda’s anti-gay bill this week


Tens of thousands phone Heads of State to stop anti-gay bill


Kampala, Uganda - Today, Avaaz welcomed the news that the passage of an anti-gay law in Uganda that threatened to impose the death penalty and lengthy prison sentences on gay and lesbian citizens was dropped from Parliamentary discussions.  Avaaz was informed of this by EU diplomats who were in Parliament this morning in Kampala, but were concerned to here that this Bill could yet return next week should Parliament agree to reconvene.

Alice Jay, Campaign Director at Avaaz said:
“The news that the brutal anti-gay law won’t be discussed in Parliament today is a victory for all Ugandans and people across the world who value human rights. This has been an extraordinary week where over two million people from every country in the world have rallied to voice their outrage and called on their governments to do everything possible to ensure that this bill is thrown out, and the intimidation and harassment of the LGBT community in Uganda is stopped. This vile bill is a matter of life and death for gay Ugandans, and would have seen the execution, imprisonment and persecution of friends of Avaaz, and thousands of others who have committed no crime at all. We must now ensure this heinous bill can never return to Parliament again.”

This comes after a week in which over two million people signed the Avaaz and All Out petitions urging politicians in Uganda to stop the ‘Anti Homosexuality bill’, and tens of thousands telephoned their Heads of State urging them to use all their diplomatic influence to get the government of Uganda to drop the bill and protect human rights.

In reaction to the news, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo who has been supporting Avaaz’s global campaign in Uganda said:
“This was a dangerous Bill and there is a lot of tension and riots in the country. We feared that they may use this opportunity to do anything to anybody. This Bill must never see the light of day as the mob could use this to inflict terrible crimes against people.  The pressure from people around the world has had a big impact, and the resulting influence from the international community has played a very important role in stopping this going forward today.”  

This massive global pressure has had a significant impact on global leaders who have spoken out:

-  Germany froze aid to Uganda in opposition to anti-gay actions: http://bit.ly/jMXMTm

 

- UK Foreign Minister, William Hague, wrote: "We oppose this Bill and will continue to raise our concerns with Ugandan Government. We urge Ugandan MPs to reject it. Our embassy is lobbying Ugandan gov & the UK initiated a formal EU demarche to the Ugandan foreign minister on the bill."

 

- The US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: "No amendments, no changes, would justify the passage of this odious bill”, "Both (President Barack Obama) and (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) publicly said it is inconsistent with universal human rights standards and obligations."

- Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said “We have expressed the government's condemnation of the content of the bill” http://bit.ly/lxtaUc

 

- Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury said “the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can't see how it could be supported by any Anglican” http://bit.ly/iYPn19


ENDS

Avaaz is the largest online campaigning organisation in the world with 8.9 million members - more info about the campaign can be found here http://bit.ly/lIjFha .
Citizens from every country in the world are leaving comments about the bill after they have called their Head of State here http://bit.ly/iXUb3J

Two contacts to discuss the story in Uganda are below. Frank Mugisha is the leading gay rights activist in Uganda, whose friend and colleague, David Kato was brutally murdered in an anti gay crime two months ago. He and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo handed in the two million strong petition to the Speaker of the House in Kampala earlier this week and are outside Parliament today to hear the outcome of the Parliament deliberations:

Frank Mugisha Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda Group:+ 256 772 616 062

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo + 256 772448958

Alice Jay, Campaigns Director for Avaaz is also available for interview and to organise this please call Sam Barratt on + 44 7909 836139 or email him at [email protected]