The SA Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (SA GLAAD) expresses its disappointment at the failure of the SA government to condemn Uganda’s genocide bill or to respond to calls to do so.
For some time now, a public debate has been raging around the tabling of a Genocide Bill in Uganda. This bill would leave no place safe for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex people in Uganda – not even for Ugandans who flee the country as it includes an extradition clause for “offenders” to be sent back to Uganda to be punished for the crime of “homosexuality” – which in many cases would incur the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Currently in Uganda, homosexuality is a “crime” already punishable by life imprisonment, but this bill goes a step further to prescribe the death penalty simply for being gay (or any other letter in the GLBTIQ collective, described in the bill in a manner which flies in the face of recognized medical practice, as “homosexual”) as well. Many human rights groups around the world feel that Uganda is on the verge of a government-sponsored anti-gay “ethnic cleansing” or mass-murder – or what we know as genocide. SA GLAAD would like to make it clear that it shares this opinion.
So far, the UN has remained silent on the matter. The USA has been approached by human rights groups to condemn Uganda for this unacceptable behavior, but so far has not responded. It is also absolutely outrageous that Australia’s Senate publicly declined to condemn the bill. The UK this week made a half-hearted statement expressing “concern” over the bill, but without any direct condemnation. Thus far, only France has publicly and clearly condemned Uganda for even considering this obscenity and affront to human rights.
To add to our disappointment and concern, South Africa, the supposed triumph of democracy and bright shining light of human rights in Africa, has not only not condemned this barbarism, but so far blatantly ignored all calls to do so. On October 18th SA GLAAD launched a campaign to call the President’s hotline to encourage Mr Zuma to take up this issue, so far to no avail. This is simply not good enough.
We wonder WHY the SA government steadfastly refuses to take on Uganda (and other countries) for their shocking human rights abuses, and whether this is in any way related to WHY they REFUSED to sign the UN Declaration to Decriminalize Homosexuality in December 2008, citing “having principles”. I think the South African public would like to know very much what that was supposed to mean.
This sort of blatant disregard inspires insecurity in a community which already wonders whether there is truth in the alegations that the NILC under Ray McCaulley is indeed receiving cooperation and support of the Presidency to change the SA Constitution and to remove from it the equalities of the pink community.
We see here an historic opportunity for South Africans to take a stand for human rights, to condemn this horror and to restore the reputation of South Africa as the “human rights miracle” it was once seen to be.
We strongly urge President Zuma and the SA government to condemn this immoral abuse of human rights in Uganda and to strongly encourage the Ugandan government to reject the genocide bill and reverse the imposition of terrorist and oppressive anti-human rights laws in Uganda.
For SA GLAAD,
South African Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (SA GLAAD)
Member of the Board, Press & Media Liaison