U.N. chief calls on Uganda to repeal anti-homosexuality bill

NEW YORK, Feb. 26 (PNA/Kyodo) — U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called for the controversial anti-homosexuality law in Uganda that authorizes punishments of up to life in prison for those accused of homosexual acts to be repealed or revised, a U.N. spokesman said Tuesday.

Ban urges the government “to protect all persons from violence and discrimination, and hopes that the law can be revised or repealed at the earliest opportunity,” Martin Nesirky, Ban’s spokesman, said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday signed a tougher anti-gay bill, which was approved by Parliament in December, and has drawn worldwide criticism. Previously offenders were sent to jail for up to 14 years, but now they could face a lifetime behind bars.

Ban, like U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, is concerned that the law imposing such punishment for homosexuality, same-sex marriage and so called “aggravated homosexuality” could fuel prejudice and encourage harassment toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations.

The Associated Press reported that a Uganda newspaper on Tuesday published a list of what it called the country’s “200 top” gays, sparking off fear within those communities.

In 2011 a similar such list was published by a now defunct tabloid that also called for the execution of gays. Shortly afterwards, a prominent activist, David Kato, was killed, according to AP.

In the statement Ban also reiterated that every person is “entitled to enjoy the same basic rights and live a life of worth and dignity without discrimination,” which he said is a concept embedded in the U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Ugandan Constitution.

Ban expressed serious concerns about the law’s implications when he met on Monday with Uganda’s Ambassador Richard Nduhuura at U.N. headquarters. (PNA/Kyodo)