An open letter to the president of Uganda: Life as an LGBTQ+ person is unbearable

by Real Raymond | .
Friday, 19 May 2023 08:24 GMT

Ugandan Members of Parliament stand as they participate during the passing of the anti-Homosexuality bill, at a sitting inside the Parliament Buildings in Kampala, Uganda May 2, 2023. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Help LGBTQ+ Ugandans to live lives free from the whims of the government or public opinion, writes Real Raymond

Real Raymond is a LGBTQ+ activist based in Mbarara, Uganda

Dear President Yoweri Museveni,

The Ugandan LGBTQ+ people are living in fear of what might happen now that our parliament has passed the barely revised Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 into law.

Under the terms of the law, even the new amendments made to the bill are not sufficient to cure it of its unconstitutional elements.

The bill remains in violation of Uganda’s supreme law, against binding international human rights guidelines and it will also negatively impact the fight against HIV/AIDs in Uganda.

You now have 30 days from May 2, 2023, to sign it or send the bill back to parliament proposing additional amendments. If you decide to veto the bill, parliament can pass it into law without your signature provided they have a two-thirds majority.

We, Uganda’s LGBTQ+ community, are sick of watching all this happen after we have accomplished so much for the advancement of our community.

Uganda's anti-gay bill is a blatant violation of human rights and an attack on LGBTQ+ people. Its message is an act of aggression against human rights in Africa and around the world.

Discrimination and hate have no place in any society.

We must stand together in support of love, acceptance and equality for all. Our legislators claim they are protecting Ugandans’ norms and culture, but they forget that homosexuality is also African.

Our community is left to deal with unprecedented challenges that will come if this bill is enacted into law. We are already seeing an increase in the denial of healthcare services and an upswing in police arrests. If this law is passed, our community will be left to survive completely on its own.

In the past (and more so recently) law enforcement officials have frequently arrested members of the LGBTQ+ community on charges of promotion of homosexuality.

We fear they will use this bill to increase arrests and further persecute our community. If you decide to sign it into law, we will have almost no legal recourse because simply being known as gay or queer will be criminalised.

This bill has made it illegal to “promote” the supposed agenda of the LGBTQ+ community with almost no restrictions on how that could be interpreted.

It states that it is a crime to touch another person with the “intent” to commit a homosexual act, which leaves the perception of that intent entirely up to the police, who themselves might be homophobic. The bill allows for us to be attacked by the general public with impunity – we will have no legal recourse.

Now more than ever, the public, particularly those against our rights, have a powerful voice against the LGBTQ+ community, spearheaded by different groups, many of which claim to be religious.

These groups hated us already, but the risk has been increased for LGBTQ+ people as these hate groups will now work hand in hand with law enforcement. They want to erase us.

We call upon you to veto this bill. It is unconstitutional. It is a blatant violation of our human rights. Its goals are discrimination, violence and hatred, and its result will be a division of society.

It is wrong, legally and ethically.

However, even you decide to veto the bill, we still need more help.

The public is already fired up and will continue to do us harm. The environment in Uganda, which was already unfriendly, is worse than ever.

Those already arrested will continue to face horrors and discrimination in prison. A shocking number of our community have already been evicted from their homes and we have seen an increase in mob attacks, denial of employment and a refusal to provide healthcare services.

We call upon you to veto this bill in the name of human rights of every Ugandan, whether LGBTQ+ or not.

Yours respectfully,

The Ugandan LGBTQ+ community

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