On Thursday, a powerful Senate panel is expected to ramp up pressure on Uganda’s leaders to kill an anti-gay bill that would criminalize homosexuality and is now pending in that country’s Parliament.
At issue is Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would impose life imprisonment or a death sentence for same-gender consensual sex and threatens prison time for individuals who do not report suspected homosexuals to the police. The proposed law has sparked international condemnation, and this week that outrage will be on display at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The panel is expected to take up a Senate Resolution on Thursday on urging members of Uganda’s Parliament to reject the bill. A broad coalition of advocacy groups has urged senators to support the measure.
In a letter urging a “yes” vote on the resolution, the groups note that this legislation (and similar proposals in other countries) is a gross violation of human rights and could jeopardize the international response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
“The effort to halt and reverse the spread of HIV & AIDS globally is compromised by punitive legal environments that further marginalize communities at high risk for HIV,” the coalition letter says. “Gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in low- and middle-income countries are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population. Criminal laws that expressly target this population drive the community underground, fueling risk-taking behavior in a climate of fear and silence, and making it difficult to reach MSM with the information and services they need. Investments in PEPFAR, totaling over $32.3 billion since FY 2004, will not achieve their full potential in a political climate that is hostile to key affected populations.”
Click here to read the full sign-on letter: SRes409 (2)