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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid