A statement by the Professional Association for Transgender Health in South Africa (PATHSA)
PATHSA notes with extreme concern that Uganda's parliament has recently passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, though it is yet to be signed into law by Uganda’s President Museveni.
Although same-sex acts have long been illegal in Uganda as a legacy of colonial rule, this Bill goes further. "Engaging in acts of homosexuality" is an offence that could be punishable with life imprisonment. "Aggravated homosexuality" provisions mean that “repeat offenders” could be sentenced to death. Landlords who knowingly rent premises for homosexual acts risk going to prison for seven years. However, citizens are no longer required to report LGBTQ persons to the authorities, one important change made to the previous version of the Bill.
The grave and inhumane impact of this Bill on LGBTQ people is an unacceptable injustice. While the thrust of the Bill appears to target gay and lesbian people, it is not clear to what extent trans, gender diverse and non-binary people are affected. But inevitably, the conflation of sexual orientation and gender identity could lead to arrests and attempted criminalisation of all queer people, including those whose gender expression is non-normative or implies homosexuality. Activists and LGBTQ people in Uganda report a general climate of fear, panic and blackmail, and there is a chilling effect on any LGBTQ organising.
As UNAIDS has also noted, enactment of the Bill “would drive communities away from life-saving services, and obstruct health workers, including civil society groups, from providing HIV prevention, testing and treatment.” In such a context, the idea of any gender-affirming care is unthinkable.
PATHSA believes this Bill is an “assault on already vulnerable sexual and gender minorities” and will contribute to further marginalisation and ill health of trans, gender diverse and non-binary people.
It calls on the South African government to register its protest against the Bill to its Ugandan counterparts and further calls on Uganda to honour its international and continental commitments to non-discrimination, especially noted in Resolution 275 of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.