Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nov 19 Gay Uganda Actions in NYC & DC

(Gay Ugandan exiles and their allies demonstrated on November 7th in London.)

Earlier this week I called attention to a demonstration over last weekend at the Uganda House governmental office in London, because of a horrific and potentially deadly bill being considered by Uganda politicians and religious leaders. It cheered my activist heart to see a street protest took place in London, organized by unpaid volunteers, after a call to action was issued by gay Ugandans, who, for myriad security and safety reasons can't demonstrate in their own country.

However, I also took the well-funded human rights non-governmental organizations in New York and DC, where many are based, to task for not getting out of their suites and into the streets on behalf our brothers and sisters in the African nation.

But today I received this information about street protests on November 19 in those two cities, and other global locations, and I am pleased to see the NGOs I criticized are taking action. I offer sincere thanks and high praise for this development by the NGO staffers on behalf of the beleaguered gay Ugandans. Let this upcoming action become a regular occurrence by NGO staffers at embassies in Washington and UN missions in Manhattan.

From an email circulating today on the web:


When: Thursday, November 19, 12:30 pm
Where: Uganda House, 336 E. 45th St. (Btwn 1st & 2nd Aves)

This demonstration is being organized in response to the global call for action from November 9th to December 10th, Human Rights Day, by SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda) a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people's organizations based Uganda.

Join with African Services Committee, IGLHRC (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission), Human Rights Watch, Health GAP and many other local HIV/AIDS and social justice organizations in the area on Thursday, November 19th at 12:30pm outside the Ugandan Consulate [sic, it's the Ugandan mission to the UN] in New York to protest this assault on the basic human rights for the Ugandan LGBT community as proposed in Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Similar actions are happening around the world including in Copenhagan, Ottowa, Pretoria and on the same day in Washington D.C.

The Issue:

The Ugandan Parliament is now considering a homophobic law that would reaffirm penalties for homosexuality and criminalize the "promotion of homosexuality." The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 targets lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans, their defenders and anyone else who fails to report them to the authorities whether they are inside or outside of Uganda.


Uganda's Penal Code Article 145a already criminalizes "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" – a charge used to prosecute, persecute and blackmail LGBT people with the threat of life imprisonment. The new bill would specifically penalize homosexuality, using life imprisonment to punish anything from sexual stimulation to simply "touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality." It also punishes "aggravated homosexuality" – including activity by "serial offenders" or those who are HIV positive – with the death penalty.

A tip of the hat to Bill Dobbs, for sharing this important info.

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