Opinion: Uganda Law Attacks Basic Human Rights

Paul Kwizera Bucyana (left) and Fox Odoi-Oywelowo

By K. Augustine Tanner-Ihm

The recent passage of an anti-homosexuality bill through the Parliament of Uganda on March 21 is cause for concern. I find it alarming that the bill includes the death penalty as a potential sentence for the offense of “aggravated homosexuality,” which includes cases of “serial” homosexuality as defined elsewhere in the bill.

This approach intentionally conflates consensual same-sex intimacy with rape and child sexual abuse. Furthermore, the bill criminalizes gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and intersex people purely on the basis of their identity, in addition to criminalizing LGBT+ intimacy. While some of the more extreme elements of the bill may have been mitigated during its passage through Parliament, it still contains clauses that criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality” and create a “duty to report” LGBT intimacy, among other provisions.

These clauses create significant risks that LGBT+ people, activists, and organizations, as well as broader human rights advocacy, will face further criminalization and suppression in Uganda. Despite this, I applaud the courage of Fox Odoi-Oywelowo and Paul Kwizera Bucyana, who voted against the bill.

It is important to note that this legislation is not representative of the views of all Ugandans or of the broader international community. The organization Sexual Minorities Uganda has presented statistics proving that homosexuality is not a condition exclusive to the West. Nevertheless, I am troubled by President Yoweri Museveni’s stance that Uganda will not accept homosexuality and has called for an end to Western attempts to impose Western views on other countries. While it is essential to respect cultural differences, it is equally important to recognize and uphold the dignity and worth of all human beings, as outlined in Christian Scripture and Anglican theological papers.

As an Anglican, I believe that the church has a responsibility to speak out against injustices and affirm the principles of the faith. Lambeth Conference resolutions and other documents outline the church’s stance on issues related to marriage and sexuality, including the need for “pastoral care” and “listening to the experience of homosexual persons,” while still upholding traditional Christian teaching. This balance is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the church’s message.

In light of these developments in Uganda, it is essential that the international community, including the Anglican Commumion, continues to advocate for the protection of human rights and affirming the dignity and worth of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes supporting LGBT+ individuals and organizations in Uganda and elsewhere, as well as engaging in dialogue and education to foster greater understanding and acceptance of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

The Rev. Dr. K. Augustine Tanner-Ihm, OMS, is assistant curate at St. James and Emmanuel Church in Manchester, England, and teaches at the New Theology School.


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