The supporters of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 often say that restrictions are needed on homosexuality because gays seek to recruit children into sex. I asked Val Kalende for a comment on these allegations and she sent this statement in the form of an official policy statement.
Note that this statement makes clear that the homosexual community as represented by this statement oppose coercion and recruitment of children into sexual activities. Also note that existing law punishes those who engage in sexual activities with minors, whether the offense is against a girl or a boy. These persons agree with the need to impose penalties on sexual abuse and exploitation of minors.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FREEDOM AND ROAM UGANDA STATEMENT ON SEXUAL ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION OF MINORS.
Our movement recognizes violence, harassment and sexual abuse of minors as violation of human rights. As a movement of people who stand for social justice, we express profound dismay at any form of sexual abuse whether hetero or homosexual.
We share Hon. David Bahati’s desires as expressed in the preamble of Bill 18:
- To strengthen the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the family unit. It is nevertheless important to point out that most of these can hardly be realized through the regulatory mechanism of the law.
- To protect the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, particularly the positive aspects of it.
- To protect Ugandan children and youth who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation—whether hetero or homosexual.
However, while we agree that we must seek ways of dealing with issues that threaten our families, we do not agree that consensual adult homosexual relationships is one of those issues. It is therefore our humble opinion that the Bill be unpacked and scrutinized so as to avoid a law that will be used to discriminate people who are not harming anyone. There is need to separate the concept of consensual sex and non-consensual sex. In other words, we implore Hon. Bahati to withdraw his private members Bill in its entirety. As Professor Ogenga Latigo, the Leader of the Opposition said of this ´kill-the-gays´ Bill, “we cannot plunge into a legislative process before looking at what is happening, the facts and what the trends are”.
Homosexuals form a small group of people who, when people feel vulnerable, are blamed for all society’s problems. Gays have been blamed for the spread of HIV, including certain government officials saying ´Gays are not Government? priority in the fight against HIV & AIDS.´ Let it be understood: it’s not homosexuality that spreads AIDS; it is the culture that brutalizes gay men and forces them underground that spreads AIDS. To blame the spread of HIV on a minority group of people is burying our heads in the sand and failing to deal with the real problem facing our country.
Homosexuals are not the rapists and child molesters who pounce on unsuspecting family members. Research shows that over 50% of child sexual abuse reports involve children below the age of 10, and the perpetrators are heterosexual men. (Study cited in Uganda Youth Development Link, Report on Sectoral Study on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Uganda, Commissioned by the International Labour Organisation and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development- January 2004)
The 2006 national study on Domestic Violence by Law Reform Commission confirmed that 66% domestic violence (2006 national study on Domestic Violence of people in all regions of Uganda reported that Domestic Violence occured in their homes and the majority of the perpertratpors were ´male heads of household´. ( See Law Reform Commission, A Study Report on Domestic Violence, April 2006 at p.112)
The millions of Ugandan children orphaned by HIV & AIDS. The Uganda Aids Commission puts the cumulative number of orphans due to AIDS at 2 million. Homosexuals are not largely responsible for these figures since they are not considered as people who procreate.
In addressing what Pastor Martin Ssempa and his group are peddling as ´Public Outcry´, first and foremost it is not true that the Penal Code provision on ´Aggravated Defilement´ does not cover abused boys. Section 129 (3) clearly says: ´Any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen years commit a felony called aggravated defilement´. It does not limit the legal protection to girls.
As a movement, we respect and value the rights of all human beings regardless of who they are, who they have sex with and how they have sex. We SHALL be behind any efforts seeking to curb sexual abuse against minors just as we are committed to supporting any efforts seeking to curtail sexual abuse against curative rape against lesbians, and the unrealistic religious fundamentalist agenda that seeks to demonize homosexual abuses over heterosexual abuses.
As Freedom and Roam Uganda we:
- Totally oppose the Bill as a whole and therefore calls for its complete withdrawal.
- Do not support amendment of the Bill.
- Support criminalization of non-consensual sex, for example, rape and paedophilia, whether homosexual or heterosexual.
- Oppose the criminalisation of consensual sex between adults of sound mind.
- The Penal code should be amended to draw an effective distinction between consensual sex and non-consensual sex.
Freedom and Roam Uganda- FARUG
Freedom and Roam Uganda is a member organisation of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’s organisations based in Uganda.
For further details, contact:
Freedom and Roam Uganda
Email: kalendenator@gmail .com
Sexual Minorities Uganda
It is wrong to conflate private adult homosexual conduct and sexual coercion or recruitment of minors. This statement is very clear that these groups oppose recruitment and oppose anyone of any sexual orientation who targets boys or girls.