The situation for LGBT people in Uganda is dire, with President Yoweri Museveni poised to sign a draconian anti-gay bill into law. The new law will impose a lifetime prison sentence for the "crime" of "aggravated homosexuality," mandate jail time for sexual acts between members of the same sex, compel people to turn in anyone they know who has engaged in same-sex sexual conduct, and penalize them if they fail to do so.
But what can we in the West do? What actions can we take that will be helpful, rather than harmful, for LGBT Ugandans who will soon have to live under this appalling law?
Prominent Ugandan LGBT activists Frank Mugisha, Jeffrey Ogwaro, Kasha Jacqueline, Pep Julian Onziema, and Adrian Jjuuko of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law have released a list of suggested actions that we can take to help our persecuted LGBT siblings in that country.
It's after the jump.
These guidelines are intended to guide international partners on how to support the CSCHRCL at this important stage.
Ways in which you can support the LGBTI community.
- World Wide demonstrations. We call upon all partners, friends and allies to organize worldwide demonstrations in different cities around the world now and or in the event that this bill is passed in its current form.
- Call on Multinational companies that have businesses in Uganda to go public about their concerns on the bill and their future economic engagements in Uganda.
- Issue statements condemning the passage of the Bill and calling upon the President NOT to sign it into law. We need the Government to know that they shall not get away with their actions. We need to know and compile organizations that can support people from Uganda in case things get worse and they have to get out of the country and seek asylum elsewhere.LGBTI people or people doing work around LGBTI rights are liable to being arrested if the Bill comes into force Call for your governments to issue travel advisories on Uganda.
- Call for your governments to 'recall' ambassadors back to their respective Capitals for at least one week for strategic consultations on how to move forward when dealing with Uganda and Nigeria in regards to the two draconian laws. This will give the Ugandan government food for thought
- Get foreign leaders in foreign governments to say something about the bill as they have not come out strongly as it was expected.
- Get celebrities to say something against the Bill/Act. We need more voices that Ugandans recognize and revere socially to speak out against this bill being passed into Law.
- Get more international Aid groups especially those responding to HIV/AIDS work to say something for example: USAID, Pepfar, CDC, Global fund etc.
- Engage with any non-LGBTI partner organizations in Uganda that you may collaborate with or whom you fund to issue statements condemning the passage of the AHB and its implications to the work of Non Governmental Organizations.(NGOs).Remind them how this Bill is going to further shrink NGO spaces and is bound to affect the work they are doing.
- Draw international public attention to issues such as corruption, human trafficking, nodding disease in northern, land-grabbing, as well as the suppression of media freedom and civil society space, the Public order management Bill so that attention shifts to where it properly belongs; in the best interests of the country's population as a whole. We need to step up public criticism to other negative trends in Uganda and remind the world that this bill is still being used as a tool to divert attention...
- Getting religious leaders to issue statements encouraging tolerance and respect for human rights for all. Vatican, Church of England etc.
- Contribute physical, financial, or technical support to the Coalition and the LGBTI community as well as the exposed Human Rights Defenders working on LGBTI rights who are likely to begin to be arrested and charged. Financial and technical support for challenging the Bill in the constitutional court and the East African Court of Justice when it becomes law.
- The question of cutting Donor AID has arisen. We want to make this very clear. We don't support AID cuts because of the detrimental effects this will have on our national budget that supports all Ugandans. However we cannot influence foreign policies of donor countries whose citizen's demand that tax payer's money not be sent to countries that don't respect Human Rights in general.