New York City — Human Rights First condemns legislative efforts introduced this week in Uganda and Russia that aim to discriminate and persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals. The group notes that from Kampala to Saint Petersburg, lawmakers around the world are trying to limit the rights of their own citizens who are gay.
"While gay rights are generally advancing globally, more efforts must be made to push back against new restrictions that represent a backlash from those on the side of bigotry and intolerance," said Human Rights First's Paul LeGendre. "Our partners on the ground are telling us that the Ugandan bill was reintroduced in Parliament yesterday, and just this morning, legislators in Saint Petersburg passed a widely supported 'Anti-Propaganda' Bill targeting the LGBTI community.
LGBTI persons face very different realities in Russia and Uganda. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda and new legislation pending there would introduce life sentences for a range of homosexual acts and would penalize the vague notion of "promotion of homosexuality" as well as require all known homosexuals to be reported. This would have a devastating impact on human rights activists, health care professionals, and pastoral care providers, among others. In Russia, the proposed bill is discriminatory because of its serious restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly. Despite those differences, the parliamentarians who champion and support both bills — and others like them around the world - are often driven by comparable political goals. They also voice a similar narrative, using homosexuality as a scapegoat for societal ills and economic struggles.
"Even though Secretary Clinton announced in her landmark speech last year that LGBT rights are human rights, these pieces of legislation show that there is still a lot of work to be done to protect the LGBTI community internationally," concluded LeGendre. "The simple coincidence of these two bills resurfacing in such different places is a signal that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons still face widespread violence and discrimination. We applaud the Secretary's leadership and attention."