By Kezia Agaba
Uganda has yet again come under scathing attack over the recently passed Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014(AHA). This was during the 55th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) currently taking place in Luanda, Angola.
The legislation had taken centre-stage during the pre-convention Forum of NGO’s in Africa, culminating in a report to the Assembly of countries meeting on human and people’s rights.
Exercising his right of reply, the Minister of State for Justice & Constitutional Affairs and Deputy Attorney General, Hon. Frederick Ruhindi took to the floor a record three times to set the record straight and categorically state the country position.
“The issue of sexual orientation is not a human right provided for in the human rights instruments we subscribe to,”Ruhindi said.
“Uganda is signatory to international and regional human rights instruments which provide for non-discrimination based on grounds of sex, race and religion among others. Our understanding of this fundamental human right is that sex is based on gender. That is the right that we recognise and protect in our constitution. Our constitution further qualifies this by prohibiting marriage between people of the same sex,” Ruhindi stated.
The law has been criticised by at least four African NGO’s, most notable of which is the Botswana Centre for Human Rights Center (DITSHWANELO), which dedicated its entire report to opposing the AHA 2014.
Responding to the various LGBTI fora, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou (Benin), expressed the general unease felt with the issue because unlike the right to life that is universally accepted, “there is no African position on sexual orientation.”
She gave the experience of Rwanda that shelved their anti-homosexuality bill because the society had other more pressing issues such as development. “We should respect our cultures,” she added.
Earlier, the Vice President of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights, Justice Bernard Makgabo Ngoepe (South Africa) addressed the convention urging for caution in speeding the passing of legislation.