UN human rights chief calls on Uganda to shelve anti-gay bill

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The United Nations called on Uganda to scrap a bill which could execute and imprison gay people.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said today that the proposed legislation was “draconian” and “blatantly discriminatory”.

Pillay reminded Uganda of its human rights obligations and said the bill would “seriously damage the country’s reputation in the international arena”.

She said: “It is extraordinary to find legislation like this being proposed more than 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – as well as many subsequent international laws and standards – made it clear this type of discrimination is unacceptable.”

The bill would execute gay people convicted of having sex with minors, disabled people and while infected with HIV. Repeat offenders would also be subject to capital punishment.

Prison sentences would be imposed on people who are aware of homosexuality but do not report it.

Pillay said the bill would have “a tremendously negative impact on the enjoyment of a range of fundamental human rights by homosexuals, lesbians and transgendered individuals, as well as on parents, teachers, landlords, human rights defenders, medical professionals and HIV workers”.

She said she was encouraged by recent reports that suggested ministers including prime minister Yoweri Museveni, were stepping back from supporting the proposed legislation.

Pillay said the “only responsible course of action” would be for the government to intervene to prevent the bill becoming law. She added that the country should also repeal its existing laws against homosexuality.

The UK, US, Sweden and EU have all opposed the law.

Although the bill’s sponsor, David Bahati MP, has said he will not bow to foreign pressure, Museveni said last week that Uganda’s “foreign policy interests” must be taken into account.