Uganda: ‘Toxic laws’ cause surge in homophobic hate crimes

16 Oct

A report published by Amnesty International has revealed a surge in gender and homophobic discrimination, violent attacks and an increase in state repression in Uganda in the past 18 months due to ‘toxic laws’.

Amnesty’s report – Rule by Law: Discriminatory Legislation and Legitimised Abuses in Uganda – documents the cumulative human rights impact of the Anti-Pornography Act, the Public Order Management Act, and the now nullified Anti-Homosexuality Act. These Acts were passed by Uganda’s Parliament and signed into law between last August and February this year.

The report details how three pieces of legislation have violated fundamental human rights, fuelled discriminatory abuses and left individuals unable to seek justice.

While the Anti-Homosexuality Act was in force people who identified as – or were perceived to be LGBT were arbitrarily arrested, including when reporting crimes against them. Some were beaten and groped by police and other detainees in custody. The Anti-Homosexuality Act also led to LGBTI people being evicted from their homes and losing their jobs and subjected to mob attacks.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for east Africa Sarah Jackson called for the government to “act now to revise these toxic laws, which threaten the core of human rights in Uganda”. She said: “Repression in Uganda is increasingly state sanctioned through the use of blatantly discriminatory legislation that erodes rights guaranteed in the country’s Constitution.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act was overturned by Uganda’s Constitutional Court in August on the grounds that Parliament passed it without quorum. Constitutional challenges to the Anti-Pornography Act and Public Order Management Act are pending.

Jackson added: “Even though the Anti-Homosexuality Act has been nullified its effects are still felt and the fundamental issues have not been dealt with. People who would normally speak out in defence of others have been stigmatised and silenced.”



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