BY Kerry Eleveld
January 21 2010 5:50 PM ET
Representatives Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis, and Barney Frank held a hearing Thursday on the discriminatory Uganda bill that would impose the death penalty for certain acts of gay sex.
One of the witnesses, Ugandan activist Julius Kaggwa of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, told Advocate.com, “We want to share with them our stories and call upon the American Congress to stand with us to stop this policy. We need added voices from the international community and from the United States in particular.”
Specifically, the legislation would extend the punishment for engaging in gay sex to life imprisonment and introduce the death penalty for those who do so repeatedly or while HIV-positive — acts termed "aggravated homosexuality” within the bill.
Four people testified alongside Kaggwa in opposition to the bill: Karl Wycoff, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East African Affairs; Cary Alan Johnson, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; Reverend Kapya Kaoma of Political Research Associates; and Christine Lubinski, HIV Medicine Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America.
Kaggwa said the bill has already had its first reading in parliament and amendments are now being debated that would refine the death penalty language and propose counseling for people who are gay.
“But we are saying we want the bill to be scrapped in its entirety because it is oppressive and unconstitutional,” he said.
Although homosexuality is already against the law in Uganda, Kaggwa said the Uganda constitution provides for the protection of all citizens, including minorities, and also upholds the right to privacy and all human rights as stated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Kaggwa also called on President Barack Obama to send a clear message on that matter.
“Our hope is for him to engage more with our president and to speak out more loudly on this particular bill,” he said.
Kaggwa's testimony as prepared for delivery to Congress's Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is provided on the following pages.