Professionals such as lawyers, health practitioners, journalists and Human rights defenders risk finding themselves in court over the recently passed Anti-Homosexuality Act. The Act, passed by Parliament in December and assented to by President Yoweri Museveni last week, prohibits any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex, prohibits the promotion or recognition of such relations and to provide for other related matters.
The Act, passed by Parliament in December and assented to by President Yoweri Museveni last week, prohibits any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex, prohibits the promotion or recognition of such relations and to provide for other related matters.
Steven Tumwesigye, a lawyer with Onyango and Company Advocates explains that every Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that is protecting human rights is affected by the law.
Under Section 13 of the Act, a promoter of homosexuality is a person who participates in production, procuring, marketing, broadcasting, publishing materials for purposes of promoting homosexuality.
Sub-section (b) of the same section targets people that fund or sponsor homosexuality or other related activities. Sub-section (e) targets any person who acts as an accomplice or attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices.
These persons commit an offence and can be imprisoned for a minimum of five years or a maximum of seven years and are liable to pay a fine of 10 million shillings or both.
Tumwesigye says an NGO cannot talk about fundamental rights of privacy, fair trial, health and rights of women without talking about criminalization of sexual acts. On the other hand any report done by the media on the subject of homosexuality will be seen as a form of promotion of the act.
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Where the offender is a corporate body or a business or an association or an NGO, on conviction its certificate of registration shall be cancelled and the Director, proprietor or promoter shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment of seven years.
Section 13 (d) of the Act also states that any person that uses electronic devices which include internet, films, and mobile phones for purposes of homosexuality shall also be liable to pay a fine of ten million shillings or a maximum of seven years in prison.
However, Tumwesigye says the weak point in the law is that it may be difficult for government to enforce the provision on consensual gay sex without any complainant.
Section 9 (2a) of the Act states that a person shall not be convicted of an offence under this section upon the evidence of one witness only, unless that witness is corroborated in some material particular by evidence implicating the accused. Aiding and abetting homosexuality is also punishable by imprisonment for seven years.
According to Tumwesigye, criminalization does not create moralization of society. This means parents may need to give their children the right information but it will be a burden.
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Before President Yoweri Museveni signed the Bill into law, US President Barak Obama stated that the law would jeopardise Uganda’s valuable relations with the US.
However, Tumwesigye describes this as politics playing its part in Uganda especially now with all the foreign countries pulling out aid.
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