Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

 

Religious leaders urge Uganda to drop ‘Christmas’ anti-gay law

Advert in country's largest newspapers sends message from 1 million to drop the bill


Nobel Laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu, renowned Evangelical leader Richard Cizik and other religious leaders condemned Uganda’s draconian anti-homosexuality bill today, speaking out alongside one million from around the world who signed a campaign to stop the bill launched by prominent Ugandan gay rights activist Frank Mugisha.

Global campaigning organisation Avaaz delivered this pointed criticism today through full page advertisements in Uganda’s biggest newspapers, The Daily Monitor and New Vision, urging Members of the Ugandan Parliament to drop the bill. The adverts, in the form of a Christmas card - which can be viewed here - feature quotes from prominent religious leaders urging Uganda’s MPs to drop the law which the Speaker of Parliament promised as a “Christmas gift” to the country with legislation likely to be put forward within the next two weeks.

Frank Mugisha, Ugandan gay rights activist, said:
If the law is passed as written, I’d be considered a “serial offender,” thrown in jail for life, and probably killed. My government needs to listen closely to these people of faith and principle who are speaking out for the human rights and dignity of all us Ugandans."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and South African singer and activist Yvonne Chaka-Chaka are also expected to criticise the proposed Uganda law at an event in New York today (Tuesday) called Leadership in the Fight Against Homophobia.

Alex Wilks, Campaign Director for Avaaz said:
“Wrapping gay hate in Christmas language is utterly wrong. Uganda’s politicians are attacking homosexuals as a populist distraction from a series of scandals. It’s time they listened to religious leaders and drop this dangerous and intrusive law, which could affect every single Ugandan.

Nobel Laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu said:
“Should the Anti-Homosexuality Bill be voted into law, it will criminalize acts of love between certain categories of people, just as the apartheid government made intimate relations between black and white South Africans a punishable offence. Those found guilty were arrested, put on trial and punished. What awaits the people of Uganda?”

The ad also quotes renowned Evangelical leader Richard Cizik: “We hope Christians everywhere will join together to reject the idea that a bill targeting a vulnerable minority could ever be an appropriate celebration of the birth of Christ."

Despite claims that the death penalty has been dropped, the only version of the controversial legislation currently available to the public calls for capital punishment in cases of “aggravated homosexuality,” and harsh penalties, including life imprisonment, for a variety of other “crimes” associated with being gay or lesbian. As written, the legislation also obliges parents, colleagues, doctors and teachers to turn in "suspected" gays and lesbians, or face 3 to 7 years in jail for “failure to disclose.”

Meanwhile, the Ugandan government is embroiled in a number of major scandals and investigations, from the suspected graft of tens of millions of dollars in international donor aid, to a recent mini-riot in Parliament sparked by debate over a controversial oil bill.

Avaaz.org is a 17-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. "Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages. Avaaz members live in every nation of the world - our movement is spread across 194 countries on 5 continents and operates in 16 languages.

ENDS

For further information or interview requests with Frank Mugisha please contact Sam Barratt on +44 7909 836139 or sam.barratt@avaaz.org.