Rep. Maloney testifies against abhorrent Ugandan anti-homosexuality legislation

Jan 21, 2010
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) today submitted the following statement to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality legislation:

I would first like to thank Chairman McGovern and Ranking Member Wolf for holding this important hearing today. The recent developments in Uganda have sent shockwaves throughout the international community and for good reason.

The Uganda Parliament recently introduced a bill that would further criminalize homosexual behavior. It would make “any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex” punishable by a minimum of seven years in prison and in cases of so-called “serial offenders” and HIV positive individuals, death.

This form of officially sanctioned discrimination is both deeply troubling as a piece of legislation and an affront to the universal values of individual liberty and human rights. 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. In response to this legislation, I have joined my colleagues in sending two letters: one, to President Obama expressing our concerns with the bill’s discriminatory nature and the second to Ugandan President Museveni urging him to support the legislation’s immediate withdrawal.

I share Secretary of State Clinton’s fear – and others in the human rights community – that this type of legislation would almost certainly incite violence against Uganda’s LGBT community and further push this already marginalized population underground. Gay Ugandans, as the New York Times has reported, are repeatedly subject to “beatings, blackmail, death threats, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.” Moreover, at a time when the United States sends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Uganda through PEPFAR and other health initiatives, we should closely examine the impact this anti-gay bill may have on our efforts to encourage HIV prevention, treatment, and care in that country.

The Washington Post has called the Anti-Homosexuality Bill an “ugly and ignorant piece of legislation.” I believe that is putting it mildly. As a member of the LGBT Caucus and a longstanding champion of equal rights for LGBT persons, I am deeply troubled by the very notion that someone could be discriminated against – let alone sentenced to death – for their sexual orientation. Such a measure goes far beyond ugliness and ignorance: it is hate in its rawest form.

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The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission was established by Congress to promote, defend and advocate internationally recognized human rights norms in a nonpartisan manner, both within and outside of Congress, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments. More information at