City Bar Opposes Anti-Gay Bill in Uganda

In a letter sent to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, the New York City Bar Association has expressed its opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2012 (the “Bill”). “The Association abhors discrimination against LGBT people, their exclusion from full and equal participation in Uganda’s democracy, the criminalization of homosexuality and organizations that support LGBT rights, and the harsh penalties contemplated by the law (reportedly, up to and including the death penalty),” reads the letter signed by City Bar President Carey R. Dunne. The Bill is reportedly almost identical to an earlier version of the Bill that was introduced in Parliament on October 14, 2009. The City Bar, in a letter drafted by its African Affairs Committee, expressed its deep concerns about that version of the Bill in a previous letter to President Museveni dated February 16, 2010, which was resent as an attachment to the current letter. The previous letter found that among “the most troubling aspects of the Bill is its endorsement of the death sentence for individuals found guilty of ‘aggravated homosexuality,’ broadly defined to include, among other acts, same-sex relations with an individual who is under 18 years old or who has a disability, where the accused is a person living with HIV (regardless of whether or not the accused is aware of his or her status), or where the accused has been previously convicted of the ‘offense of homosexuality.’ The Association is also deeply concerned about the other harsh criminal penalties contemplated by the Bill, which include life imprisonment for engaging in same-sex activity and up to seven years imprisonment for the ‘promotion of homosexuality,’ which includes an individual, business or non-governmental organization’s provision of funds, services or access to premises for LGBT people.” The current letter, also drafted by the African Affairs Committee, states, “As set forth in our previous letter, the Association believes that the Bill violates the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and the Government’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Passage of the Bill would undermine the rule of law in Uganda by ignoring the country’s pre-existing legal obligations, which it is duty-bound to uphold,” and concludes, “We therefore again call upon your Government to promptly oppose the passage of the Bill and if passed, we urge you not to sign it.” The letter may be read here: