Uganda: Report finds over 89 cases of violations against LGBTI persons

Newspapers in Uganda have been used out LGBTI Ugandans. Photo Wikimedia.
Newspapers in Uganda have been used out LGBTI Ugandans. Photo Wikimedia.

KAMPALA, Uganda - A new report on abuses based on gender identity and sexual orientation found at least 89 verified cases of violations against LGBTI Ugandans in 2014.

The report, released Thursday by the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, found that in most of the reported cases members of the Uganda police force participated in violations of the rights of LGBT persons or condoned abuses by third parties.

The 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act, that made “aggravated same-sex relations” in Uganda punishable by life in prison, was found to have fueled these violations and abuses of LGBTI persons. The amount of violations detailed in the report almost doubled in March, after the Anti-Homosexuality Act was signed into law by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

The report did show signs of slight improvement from the previous year, including a few reported instances where the Uganda police force did protect the rights of LGBTI persons.

The verified violations included instances in which transgender persons were sexually abused in jail cells, LGBTI persons were forced to partake in medical examinations, families discriminated or abandoned children because of their sexual orientation, and the use of mob justice against LGBTI persons.

However, many elected leaders and members of civil society in Uganda claim that abuses toward LGBTI persons do not occur, especially since Uganda’s Constitutional Court declared the act null and void based on a technicality just months after the bill was signed into law.

“One of the issues we have when we are advocating with government agencies is that they always say they do not see these cases,” said Fridah Mutesi a human rights lawyer at HRAPF.

The report by the Forum is the second annual, and is meant to challenge the claim that these violations do not exist by systematically documenting and verifying violations, providing analysis, and recommending solutions to policy makers, police, and the international community.

“There has been a false perception — a feeling that all is well now. This feeling is mainly reflected in the attitude of development partners,” said Nicholas Opiyo, a lawyer at Chapter Four known for leading the successful constitutional challenge of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. “This perception is really a false perception because we are very far from achieving equality — we are very far from achieving inclusion of LGBTI persons in Uganda.”

The recommendations for the Ugandan police and policy makers in the report were simple: to recognize basic human rights.

Chris Dolan, Executive director of the Refugee Law Project at Makerere University School of Law said, “We know there is still just lot of silent complicity.”

Contributing Editor: @AustinBryan