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The Decoy Paid By Human Rights; Is The Discussion On Homosexuality In Uganda’s August House An Intent To Divert The Public From Gross Abuse Of Power?

At the moment it seems rather clear that the state of human rights in Uganda is deteriorating, yet somehow the one thing that currently never cease to leave the mouths of Uganda’s speaker of parliament Anita Among and her deputy, Moses Tayebwa, is the talk against homosexuality.

Yesterday, 28th February, Among called on religious leaders to be present at parliament as the August house passes the anti-homosexuality Bill. ‘We will not allow an aspect of saying there was an aspect of was quorum, now we are going to vote by show of hands, you are either against homosexuality or you are against. We want to see the kind of leaders we have for this country and I want to promise you I will stand by that,” she said, as if stomping on rights of a small group of Ugandans whose sexual orientation differs from the majority’s is the best thing she would ever do for this country. On the same day parliament granted leave to Bugiri Municipality member of parliament, Asuman Basalirwa to introduce a private member’s Bill titled, Anti- Homosexuality bill 2023. The Bill is expected to be tabled in parliament today. It should be remembered that a similar Bill was passed by parliament in 2013 and signed into an Act by the president in 2014, but was later nullified by the high court because parliament passed it without the necessary quorum as required by law.

With lots of videos, photos and voices circulating on both social and traditional media of Ugandans who have experienced torture, their bodies marked with scars, it would seem ethically correct that members of parliament put emphasis on discussing the matter and holding account all the involved agents accused of carrying out this inhuman deed to fellow country men and women, but no, the voted leaders would rather raise their hands for checking out on what happens inside people’s bedrooms. It seems as though the speaker and her deputy have chosen to divert the country from paying the much-needed attention on abuse of human rights and theft of iron sheets scandals to the LGBTQI+ community.

These two leaders have joined homophobic religious groups led by their respectable leaders to spread unfounded hate against sexual minorities in Uganda. It’s a cheap and popular angle to win over the public for both leaders and the entire parliament in the eyes of the gullible communities they serve. However, choosing to ignore the endless human rights abuses simply because you are comfortable with where you are currently, and not gay makes one wonder what kind of leadership we have? Most of our political and religious leaders may not like gay people, but what good does it serve our members of parliament to pass laws that punish LGBTQ+ persons for being true to our themselves, what good does it serve to pass laws that imprison or sentence to death two consenting adults for having sex the way they want it, but that way isn’t your way?

At the end of the day, ignoring human rights abuses isn’t safe for any of us because it affects everyone regardless of their sexual orientating. Closing of the UN Human Rights UG office is a shame and our members of parliament and religious leaders should focus their attention on such acts to combat government’s loss of sense of shame because its evident that government no longer wants any close international scrutiny of its human rights record. When it comes to discussing issue that affect citizens, not all members of parliament attend sessions to vote on important legislation which represent the interest of the people but will surely jump on things that don’t affect people’s livelihoods. The loss of public trust in legislators is evident in studies that have shown the number of people lining up to vote is dwindling because what really matters is never given the needed attention or time during the parliamentary session debates.

A working effective parliament doesn’t look the other way when things are going tough, even for the minority, an effective parliament seeks for ways of dismantling discrimination and tries to forge ways of creating a more inclusive and accepting society for all individuals regardless of their political, social-economic and sexual orientations. That is how societies world over move forward, discrimination only lags us behind.

Ugandans, including us as self-identifying LGBTQI+ persons deserve a legislative house that lobbies for the rights of every person living in the country. Those who advocate for human rights of LGBTQ+ persons do so because we believe everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. You don’t have to like us, you just have to respect our humanity and let us be. Because regardless of our sexual orientations or gender identity, we are humans and every individual should believe in extending the values of justice and equity to all.