Uganda: Gay and lesbian rights activists intimidated, and same sex marriage criminalised

Activist Victor Juliet Mukasa, Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), fears for her safety after her house was raided on the night of 20 July 2005.

Local government officials in a suburb of the capital city, Kampala, entered her house in her absence and seized documents and other material, apparently looking for "incriminating evidence" relating to the activities of SMUG. No search warrant was produced on demand.

Another lesbian activist, who was in Juliet's house on the night of the raid, was arbitrarily arrested and detained by local government officials and then taken to the police station.

She was subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment, in breach of her right to liberty, security and inviolability of person and to privacy. No charges were pressed against her and she was released, on the condition that she reported back to the police in the company of the chairperson of SMUG the following morning of 21 July.

Amnesty International is concerned that the above incidents add to a pattern of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Uganda where there is a climate of hostility and prejudice against members of the LGBTI community.

On 5 July 2005 the Ugandan parliament voted for a constitutional amendment to the effect that "marriage is lawful only if entered into between a man and a woman".

The amendment further declared that it was "unlawful for same-sex couples to marry".

In February 2005 the Ugandan Media Council banned the play "The Vagina Monologues" by the American playwright Eve Ensler, which several Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s organizations planned to stage to mark V-Day – a day of awareness-raising about violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.

The council found that the play "prominently promotes and glorifies acts of unnatural sex…or homosexuality."

In October 2004 a radio station was compelled to pay a fine for hosting a live talk show with sexual rights activists discussing discrimination against members of the LGBT community in Uganda and their need for HIV/AIDS services.

The Broadcasting Council imposed a fine of approximately one thousand US dollars, claiming that the programme was "contrary to public morality" and breached existing laws.

Following this incident, security officials continued to harass the LGBT community, causing gay rights activists at one of the main universities to fear for their personal safety.

Amnesty International calls on the Ugandan government to end discrimination against people on grounds of their sexual orientation, which is a violation of international human rights law.

Around 80 countries have laws which criminalise same sex relations. For more information about Amnesty International's work to end discrimination against LGBT people, and to take action to protect individuals who are at risk, visit: www.amnesty.org.uk/lgbt

Background

SMUG advocates for the promotion and respect of all rights contained in the Ugandan constitution and in international human rights treaties for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, including the right not to be discriminated against.

Find out more about our LGBT work...

View latest press releases