News / Africa

Rights Group Says Ugandan Court Decision Violates Basic Freedoms

FILE - Gay and human rights activists wait outside the courts before filing a constitutional petition against a new anti-homosexuality law, in Uganda's capital Kampala, March 11, 2014.
FILE - Gay and human rights activists wait outside the courts before filing a constitutional petition against a new anti-homosexuality law, in Uganda's capital Kampala, March 11, 2014.

Human Rights Watch has condemned a recent Ugandan court ruling against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists, whose workshop on rights advocacy was broken up two years ago by the government.  HRW says the ruling is part of a pattern of intimidation of activists.

In February 2012, Uganda’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, stormed into a human rights workshop run by gay and lesbian activists in Entebbe and shut it down.

The organizers sued Lokodo, arguing that the workshop was intended to develop advocacy and leadership skills.  But on Wednesday Uganda’s High Court ruled against the activists, saying Lokodo had acted in the public interest by protecting Ugandan moral standards.

Neela Ghoshal of Human Rights Watch says the decision could have worrying implications for public health in Uganda, and strikes a serious blow against freedom of speech.

“It essentially shuts down freedom of expression and freedom of assembly for LGBT people, and it also calls into question whether perhaps even distributing condoms to LGBT people could be considered illegal.  The judge has made quite a stretch, and essentially drawn the conclusion that even talking about LGBT rights is a criminal activity and that the government has a right to shut that down," said Ghoshal.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which formally outlaws “promotion” of homosexuality, was signed into law in February.

Earlier this week the Ugandan government issued a statement saying that Western governments had misunderstood the act, and that it was not intended to persecute gay people or prevent civil society groups from doing their work.

Ghoshal says the official position on gay rights in Uganda seems to be contradictory.

“On the one hand you have the government putting out this statement, probably in reaction to decisions by the U.S. and by other donors to revoke some funding to Uganda.  But at the same time the courts are essentially sending the opposite message that any speech about gay rights is illegal.  We have people who have been arrested, people who have been evicted from their homes, people who have been turned away from health care on the basis of the Anti-Homosexuality Act," said Ghoshal.

Despite widespread international condemnation, the Anti-Homosexuality Act is popular with Ugandan citizens.  

The judges decision, says Ghoshal, may be based on a political agenda.

 

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs