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Anti-homosexuality law in Uganda

New York, US - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, have kicked against the anti-homosexuality bill, signed into law in Uganda on Monday.

The UN officials said that the law violates basic human rights and endangers lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the country.

A UN statement, obtained by PANA in New York on Tuesday, stated that the law criminalizes and imposes life imprisonment for homosexuality, same-sex marriage and 'aggravated homosexuality'.

It quoted Ms. Pillay as saying: 'Disapproval of homosexuality by some can never justify violating the fundamental human rights of others', noting that 'this law will institutionalize discrimination and is likely to encourage harassment and violence against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation.'

She also said: 'It is formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power and accusations against anyone, not just LGBT people.'

Ms. Pillay stressed that Uganda is obliged, both by its own constitution and by international law, to respect the rights of all individuals and to protect them from discrimination and violence.

'This law violates a host of fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom from discrimination, to privacy, freedom of association, peaceful assembly, opinion and expression and equality before the law – all of which are enshrined in Uganda’s own Constitution and in the international treaties it has ratified,' she stressed.

The High Commissioner also expressed deep concern that the law could also threaten the critically important work of human rights defenders in the country, urging the government to take immediate steps to ensure that they are not prosecuted for their advocacy.

On his part, Ban said he is 'seriously concerned' about the negative impact of the new law and shares the UN High Commissioner’s view that it violates human rights.

He stated: 'It will institutionalize discrimination, restrict the vital work of human rights activists, and could trigger violence. It will also hamper potentially life-saving efforts to stop the spread of HIV'.

The UN chief appealed for the complete and universal decriminalization of homosexuality, still a criminal offence in some 76 countries, stressing that human rights must always trump cultural attitudes and societal strictures.

PANA learnt that the secretary-general had raised the anti-homosexuality law in his meeting on Monday with the Permanent Representative of Uganda to the UN, Mr. Richard Nduhuura.

However, details of the meeting was not available to UN reporters.

Pana 26/02/2014