British MPs protest against Uganda antigay Bill

Posted Apr 6, 2010 by Andrew John
More than a hundred British Members of Parliament have condemned Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which could mean the death penalty for some homosexual acts.
Peter Tatchell (right) pictured on a demonstration against homophobia in Uganda
Peter Tatchell (right) pictured on a demonstration against homophobia in Uganda
Picture: Brett Lock
The 118 MPs have signed what is known as an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the UK Parliament, urging the scrapping of the Bill.
The EDM, drafted by east London Labour MP Harry Cohen and gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, urges the Ugandan government to “uphold international humanitarian law by abandoning the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, decriminalising same-sex acts between consenting adults in private, and outlawing discrimination against gay people”.
EDMs are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. Few are actually debated, but are used for reasons such as publicising the views of individual MPs or drawing attention to specific events or campaigns.
British MPs behind this EDM are especially appalled that the Ugandan Bill proposes the death penalty for “serial offenders” (people who commit repeat homosexual acts) and life imprisonment for merely touching or kissing another person of the same sex with homosexual intent.
“We hope this motion will send a signal from the British parliament to the Ugandan government that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill constitutes an outrageous attack on the human rights of Uganda’s lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens,” said Tatchell, who also represents the London-based gay human-rights group OutRage!.
OutRage! is helping coordinate the UK campaign against the Bill, with the support of Ugandans living in Britain.
“Even if the death penalty is dropped, the Bill will remain unacceptable. It will still violate the equality guarantees of international human rights agreements, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” added Tatchell.
“We support the many Ugandan people who oppose this homophobic witch hunt. Not all Ugandans are homophobic. Many have spoken out against this legislation. We salute their compassion and courage.
“The scapegoating of gay Ugandans is reminiscent of the way Adolf Hitler scapegoated Jewish people in Germany in the 1930s.
“Demonising lesbians and gay men is a diversion from the real issues that blight the lives of most Ugandans: poverty, unemployment, low wages, disease, poor sanitation, dirty drinking water and inadequate health and education services.
“Uganda’s antigay laws were not devised by Ugandans. They were devised in London in the nineteenth century and imposed on the people of Uganda by the British colonisers and their army of occupation. Before the British came and conquered Uganda, there were no laws against homosexuality. These laws are a foreign imposition. They are not African laws.
“This Bill violates Article 21 of the constitution of Uganda, which guarantees equality and non-discrimination,” Tatchell added.