NewsMon Sep 24, 2007 - 12:15 pm EST
Ugandans Respond to Homosexual Lobby’s Attack Against Anti-Sodomy Laws
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
UGANDA, September 24, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Dr. Martin Ssempa, spokesman for Uganda’s Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality (INFAH), recently blasted the pro-gay organization "Human Rights Watch" for "numerous errors and misrepresentations" in their recent letter accusing the Uganda government of human rights abuses for enforcing the country’s anti-sodomy laws.
"What you characterize as ‘harassment’ of homosexuals or ‘threatening statements’ by high government officials is in reality nothing more than the enforcement of the laws of our country prohibiting homosexual activity", wrote Ssempa in a letter to the organization.
"These laws reflect our culture and the sentiments of the vast majority of our people," he continued. "As a sovereign nation, we not only have the right, but also the obligation to enact laws that are supported by the vast majority of our people and reflect our culture and these values. Last week, Steadman and Associates carried out a research poll which showed that an overwhelming majority of Ugandans-95 percent-find homosexuality morally repugnant and absolutely unacceptable to our culture."
The Human Rights Watch letter, written on August 23rd, claims that Uganda is violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by "a long-standing pattern of harassment and state condemnation of people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity". Uganda’s laws prohibit unnatural forms of sexual behavior, for which the maximum penalty is a life sentence.
The letter claims that "Uganda is obligated to respect the provisions on equality and freedom from discrimination enshrined in its constitution (article 21(1)-(2)) and to comply with its international obligations as set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which prohibits discrimination in its articles 2 and 26."
However, the ICCPR doesn’t mention "sexual orientation" or anything similar in its list of protected groups, which include "race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." Human Rights Watch claims that, since the signing, UN Committees have interpreted the treaty to protect homosexual behavior.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), an organization founded in 1988 with offices worldwide, has a history of opposing human life and family legislation, and of interpreting international human rights agreements to support their agenda. Last month the organization denounced the Nicaraguan government for its firm prohibition of abortion, demanding that "restrictions on abortion that unduly interfere with women’s ability to fully exercise and enjoy their human rights must be removed".
HRW claims that the right to life, referred to in human rights agreements, "is not intended to apply before the birth of a human being." In another paper it targets all of Latin America for its abortion restrictions.
Ssempa, who is an international AIDS activist who advocates abstinence and marital fidelity as the primary way to combat AIDS, was particularly indignant about Human Rights Watch’s contention that "to silence any discussion of sexual orientation" is "a determination that is devastating in the context of the HIV pandemic". He emphasizes that it is precisely Uganda’s emphasis on sexual morality that has cut the incidence of AIDS to 5%, a success rate unmatched in any other African country.
Ssempa points out that discouraging homosexual behavior is of key importance in fighting AIDS.
"Uganda has been a leader in reducing the rate of infection, and we have done it almost entirely by stressing abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage," he writes.
"To suggest that we are not doing a good job with our young people is simply not supported by the facts. To also suggest that because our HIV/AIDS prevention programs do not cater specifically to homosexuals is to suggest that not only should we condone their sexual behavior, but that they have some special right to engage in risky behavior that actually spreads this disease."
Human Rights Watch has not responded to the letter.
Ssempa’s full letter to Human Rights Watch:
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United Nations Official Slams US for Abstinence Approach to AIDS in Uganda http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/aug/05083101.html
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