The African nation of Uganda’s Parliament is set to enact new harsh penalties for certain types of homosexual acts. The Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, said it was a “Christmas present” for Ugandans.
The legislation proposes that gay men and lesbians be sentenced to life imprisonment for having sex, and those more ‘extreme’ cases of ‘aggravated homosexuality’, which includes repeat offenders, may face the death penalty if convicted.
Severely punishing certain kinds of consensual sexual ‘offences’ between people of the same-sex is homophobic and should be condemned.
On the 23rd March 2010, Canada, New Zealand and Australia made a joint statement to United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. It stated:
“Canada, New Zealand and Australia are deeply concerned by the continuing violations all over the world of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as the violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice directed against persons because of sexual orientation or gender identity. In this regard, we are especially concerned that legislation under consideration in Uganda could provide for life imprisonment and even the death penalty for homosexuality in some cases.
At this session of the Council alone, Special Rapporteurs have identified numerous human rights violations on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, including arrests, killings, violent attacks, violations of freedoms of expression, and torture.”
This Council’s mandate is to promote “universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner”.
Canada, New Zealand and Australia therefore call upon Members of this Council and all states to promote and protect the human rights of all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identify. Sexual orientation or gender identity must never be the basis for discrimination, abuse, criminal action and penalties, detention or imprisonment, or deprivation of any human right.”
As Canada, New Zealand and Australia have clearly supported the protection of human rights for LGBT identifying people and have expressed deep concerns in the particular case of Uganda we call on the Australian Government to act on its concerns to seek change in the condition within Uganda and protect those discriminated against in Uganda.
Specifically for the Australian Government to:
(1) Accept all LGBT identifying Ugandans whom seek asylum.
(2) Expel Uganda from the Commonwealth.
(3) Bring about diplomatic, economic and cultural isolation of Uganda through trade and finance embargoes/economic sanctions, the banning of state sponsored bilateral cultural activities, the reduction of diplomatic ties such as the removal of the Ugandan High Commission in Canberra, the Acting High Commissioner for Uganda, Mr Enoch Nkuruko, and refuse visas to all Ministers of State to enter Australia.
(4) Call upon all states to help in the effort to protect human rights in Uganda on the basis that “Sexual orientation or gender identity must never be the basis for discrimination, abuse, criminal action and penalties, detention or imprisonment, or deprivation of any human right.” Multilateral action is essential.
By accepting all LGBT identifying Ugandans whom seek asylum the Australian Government can protect those individuals whom suffer oppression caused by the proposed legislation.
By expelling Uganda from the Commonwealth it would provide an example of international disapproval for Uganda’s human rights record.
By bring about diplomatic, economic and cultural isolation of Uganda, Australia will express its disapproval of Uganda’s human rights record, and coerce the country to abide by its human rights obligations.
By calling upon all states to help in the effort to protect human rights in Uganda on the basis that “Sexual orientation or gender identity must never be the basis for discrimination, abuse, criminal action and penalties, detention or imprisonment, or deprivation of any human right” to legitimise international action to prevent sexual identification persecution as a valid justification for state responsiveness.
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