Dear Secretary General,
We would like to thank you for your recent statement on the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda, and to congratulate you on your broader leadership on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people wherever they are.
As organisations working to advance the health and rights of this community, we are extremely concerned by implications of the Act for LGBTI Ugandans and by the overall deterioration of human rights in Uganda. We are writing to ask you to show further solidarity by opposing Uganda’s upcoming Presidency of the United Nations General Assembly.
In addition, we are asking you to urge UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe, to publicly state her opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Act and all discriminatory laws and policies, and if she does not, to resign her position. We are troubled by Dr Wandira-Kazibwe’s recent statements to the media, available here, stating ‘I do not see any interference in the normal flow of business on account of the [signing of the] anti-homosexuality bill into law,’ and ‘On Uganda’s relations with the West, the President already expressed his opinion and as the head of this country, his wisdom has to be respected’.?
In May 2013, the African Union’s Executive Council appointed Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa as the President of the 69th UN General Assembly. Through the Anti- Homosexuality Act, Mr Kutesa’s government has further criminalized an already marginalized group, banning same sex acts and marriage and encroaching on LGBTI people’s fundamental human rights including the right to privacy, family life, equality and freedom of expression and association. As you predicted, the Act has led to a sharp increase in violence and human rights violations against people who are known or thought to be gay. Moreover, it has been enacted in a context of broader repression, including attacks on the press, opposition leaders, peaceful protest and civil society. By opposing Uganda’s upcoming Presidency, the United Nations can send a strong message to other countries on the consequences of enacting laws that persecute LGBTI people. Alongside criminalizing individuals, the Anti Homosexuality Act also makes it a crime to ‘aid and abet homosexuality’, threatening organizations which provide services to LGBTI people including HIV programs for men who have sex with men (MSM) with criminal sanction. HIV prevalence is already estimated to be 14% among MSM in Kampala, nearly twice the national average, and more than three times the estimate for heterosexual men in Kampala (4.1%). This clampdown could be disastrous for public health. For these reasons, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law recommends against laws against homosexual behavior.
In addition, as civil society, we are concerned that the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe, has not publicly taken a stance against the Anti Homosexuality Act and indeed, continues to act as Special Adviser to President Museveni even after his signing it into law. In the interests of promoting human rights- and evidence-based responses to HIV in Africa, and challenging the rise of violent homophobia on the continent, it is vital that the Special Envoy now makes clear her opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Act. If she is unwilling to do so, she should resign her position.
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