JOINT PRESS RELEASE
24 March 2023
The protest follows the recent vote by Uganda’s Parliament to criminalize LGBTQ+ people.
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA— Access Chapter 2 (AC2) together with partners are extremely appalled by the repugnant vote by the Ugandan parliament, to pass into law the infamous ‘Anti-homosexuality Bill’. In a statement released by AC2 just over a week ago, we categorically called out the state visit by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on the grounds of his disregard for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Uganda is signatory to, and the trampling of the dignity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Intersex, Queer plus (LGBTIQ+) people in Uganda and by extension, queer persons everywhere in the world. We are very aggrieved by this dramatic exercise of power, which happened on the day when we as a country observed Human Rights Day and just weeks after Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni came to South Africa on a state visit.
The collective understands that if Museveni signs this Bill into law, his government will clamp down, not only on LGBTQ+ activities, but anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ in Uganda. We fear that this position by parliament threatens the safety of LGBTQ+ people in that country, notwithstanding the already volatile environment. This is clear bigotry by the state and seeks to erase queer people and narratives, in the name of family values and protection of children. This Bill is in direct contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and clearly duplicates the country’s existing Penal Code which already criminalizes same-sex sexual acts. The Bill also stipulates that any:
- Individuals or institutions that support or fund LGBT rights’ activities or organisations, or publish, broadcast, and distribute pro-gay media material and literature, face prosecution and imprisonment.
- Media groups, journalists and publishers face prosecution and imprisonment for publishing, broadcasting, or distributing any content that advocates for gay rights or “promotes homosexuality”.
- Property owners also face the risk of being jailed if their premises are used for homosexual acts or any other sexual minorities rights’ activities – effectively denying LGBTQ+ people the rights to accommodation.
This is by far the most draconian law in Africa which does not only target the LGBTQ+ community, but also instils fear in every Ugandan as they are now compelled to report individuals they know to be identifying as LGBTQ+. We therefore call upon the South African government to speak out and call out President Museveni on the bigotry of his parliament for condemning human beings for who they choose to love.
We call upon President Cyril Ramaphosa to take us into his confidence and demonstrate political will by engaging his Ugandan counterpart to use his veto power to reject the Bill. We note that South Africa has a reputation of being a bystander when it concerns LGBTQ+ equality on the African continent. The 2016 Coalition of African Lesbians bid to be granted observer status by the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights is one of the many examples where South Africa elected to be a spectator rather than defend its very own civil society organization.
We also call upon world leaders and subsequently the United Nations to appeal to President Museveni to not sign this Bill. This harmful legislation has the potential to fuel the already volatile environment for queer persons in that country. We believe leaders will be justified in sanctioning Uganda for its deliberate abuse of human rights. This is in line with the tenets of Resolution 275 of the African Commission, which expresses grave concern about increasing violence and other human rights violations, including murder, rape, and assault, in respect of persons based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
The collective is planning to lead a march to the United Nations offices in Pretoria and Parliament in Cape Town on a date to be communicated with all newsrooms in due course.
For media enquiries please call: Mpho Buntse- AC2 Communications Officer, Tel: 010 100 3177 Cell: 068-779-6296 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Statement is endorsed and supported by the following partners:
Desmond Tutu Health Foundation
Forum for the Empowerment of Women
People Against Suffering Oppressions & Poverty (PASSOP)
Foundation for Human Rights
Embrace Diversity Movement
South African Higher Education Queer Alliance (SAHEQA)
Sonke Gender Justice
Action for Social Justice
Simon Nkoli Collective
OUT LGBT Well-being
Inclusive & Affirming Ministries
Pan African ILGA
The Other Foundation
Thami Dish Foundation
KZN LGBT Recreation
Tholoana E Molemo
Thato One Big Family LGBTIQ Society
Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action
Free State Pride
AC2 Legal Unit
Pachedu LGBTI Refugee Collective
Mureen Thela Foundation
Action for Social Justice