REP. CAROLYN MALONEY, CLERGY & ADVOCATES PROTEST ANTI-GAY UGANDA BILL
(NEW YORK, NY) – Today Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) joined with leading human rights advocates and a prominent member of the clergy to protest the draconian “Anti-Homosexuality Law” proposed in the Ugandan parliament. Immediately following the protest held outside the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations in Manhattan, Congresswoman Maloney delivered a letter to the Mission requesting that representatives of the Ugandan government meet with human rights advocates to discuss the depth and breadth of international opposition to the measure. She was joined at today’s news conference by representatives of leading human rights organizations, including Immigration Equality, the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights First, as well as the Reverend Dr. Eugene Callender, former longtime pastor at St. James Presbyterian Church, Manhattan’s oldest African-American Presbyterian Church, who attended Thursday’s Congressional Prayer Breakfast at which President Barack Obama denounced Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.
At the news conference, Representative Carolyn Maloney said, “The officially sanctioned bigotry in this bill is profoundly disturbing. It constitutes a gross violation of the universal values of individual liberty and human rights. Such a measure goes far beyond ugliness and ignorance: it is hate in its rawest form, and it has no place in the laws of any nation.”
The proposed legislation would subject those convicted of engaging in “any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex” to criminal sanctions punishable by a minimum of seven years in prison and, in cases of so-called “serial offenders” and HIV positive individuals, death. Among its many offensive and dangerous provisions, the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009 would force individuals to reveal the whereabouts of gays and lesbians to the police or face prosecution, establish extra-territorial jurisdiction to prosecute lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) Ugandans living abroad, criminalize LGBT advocacy, and limit the distribution of information on HIV prevention.
Joining Representative Maloney at today’s news conference were leading human rights advocates. Among them were Rachel Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality, who said, "Every day, Immigration Equality hears from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the globe who have been persecuted, stigmatized and subjected to unspeakable violence simply because of who they are. In the past year, we have won more than 75 asylum cases for LGBT people from around the world. We are proud to stand with Congresswoman Maloney and call on the United Nations, and the United States, to take an unmistakable stand against the continued persecution happening in Uganda. No one should be driven from their home because of who they are."
“If passed, this bill will become a tool used not only to arrest and persecute LGBT people, but to attack their friends, family and supporters,” said Jessica Stern of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). “As members of a global movement for human rights, we cannot accept anything less than the complete dismissal of the bill,” he added.
Paul LeGendre, Director of the Fighting Discrimination Program at Human Rights First, said, “The Anti-Homosexuality Bill represents one of the harshest discriminatory measures ever proposed in any country. This bill would have disastrous effects for gay men and women in Uganda, would aggravate an already alarming trend of criminalization of homosexuality across Africa, and could spur Ugandan homosexuals to flee this persecution by attempting to seek refuge outside of the country. The international community must continue to voice its concern to the Ugandan authorities until the text of this bill is shredded and removed from consideration.”
“This is a threat to every Ugandan’s privacy, dignity, and basic freedoms,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Uganda’s government must remember that universal human rights don’t come with exceptions.”
Following is a copy of the letter presented by Congresswoman Maloney to officials of the Ugandan Mission to the United Nations today.
February 8, 2010
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda
Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Republic of Uganda
336 East 45th Street
New York, New York 10017
Dear Dr. Rugunda,
I write today to request that you, as a representative of the government of the Republic of Uganda, meet with human rights activists to discuss the Anti-Homosexuality Act currently under consideration by the Ugandan Parliament. The international community has united in overwhelming opposition to this hateful, narrow-minded legislation, and we respectfully request the opportunity to convey the depth and breath of antipathy to this proposed measure. It constitutes an affront to the universal values of individual liberty and human rights and has no place in the laws of any nation.
I fear – along with others in the human rights community – that this type of legislation would almost certainly incite violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in Uganda and further push this already marginalized population underground. As a longstanding champion of equal rights for LGBT persons, I am deeply troubled by the very notion that someone could be subject to criminal sanctions – let alone sentenced to death – for his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Such a measure goes far beyond ugliness and ignorance: it is hate in its rawest form.
I look forward to your response. I hope you will do all you can to put a halt to this hateful expression of bigotry.
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress