Annually, the world commemorates International Human Rights Day on 10th December. This year marks 70 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a document that spells out the basic human rights that every individual is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, gender, color, political affiliation, religion or any other status. This year's campaign themed "Stand Up for Human Rights" looks to encourage every global citizen to stand up, promote and defend human rights not only for themselves but for all humanity including gender and sexual minorities.
International Human Rights bodies like the United Nations have used different strategies to promote and protect human rights. Different campaigns under the theme "Stand for Human Rights" have raised awareness and prompted conversations on social media platforms on how to promote Human Rights in the diverse contexts we live. There have also been dialogues at international conventions and signing treaties that have ensured the protection of rights for all.
In Uganda, we are grateful to different Human Rights Defenders that choose daily to embrace the role of defending human rights for all including gender and sexual minorities. It should however be noted that LGBT rights remain under siege. Particularly in Uganda, such violations have usually been perpetrated by the government and its actors. On countless occasions, they have attacked and alienated issues concerning marginalized communities. Last month, the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity, Fr Lokodo threatened to shut down the National HIV Prevention Symposium if presentations by representatives of key populations were not cancelled during the event. This was a clear breach on the fundamental rights to assembly, association and expression. There are continued occurrences of unreported cases of verbal homophobic attacks towards the LGBT community. While some still get fired from their jobs, others are expelled from education institutes because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Still, the government remains adamant to mitigate against these injustices.
As the world celebrates Human Rights Day, it is crucial that Human Rights Defenders continue dialogue with the government, its actors and relevant stakeholders on the importance of human rights for all with no exclusion of key populations. It is also imperative that there is endless education and sensitization to all communities even at the grassroot about rights and freedoms that we are all entitled to. This will foster the effective implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that applies to all humanity. It will also encourage every single individual to stand up not only for their own but also rights of others to promote equality and justice without any form of discrimination. It is certain that observance and standing up for human rights for all will greatly contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda come 2030.