Smith Calls For Sanctions On Uganda

10 May 2011
SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Tuesday) backed international calls for pressure to be raised on Ugandan legislators as they come to consider introducing the death penalty for homosexuality in the country.

Smith has written to EU International Relations Chief Catherine Ashton urging her to suspend all aid payments should the legislation be approved, and lent his support to the "All Out" petition calling upon the Ugandan President to veto the law.
The private member's bill was initially submitted by MP David Bahiti to the Ugandan Parliament on 14 October 2009.  It proposes to introduce the death penalty for people who have "previous convictions" of homosexuality, are HIV positive, or engage in same sex acts.  The law also includes provisions for Ugandans who engage in same-sex acts outside Uganda, asserting that they may be extradited for punishment back to Uganda.  The bill also includes penalties for individuals, companies, media organisations and non-governmental organisations which support LGBT rights.

Intense international reaction to the bill caused President Yoweri Museveni to form a commission to investigate its potential implications.  In May 2010, the committee recommended withdrawing it, however it has remained under discussion in Parliament and passed through a committee hearing last Friday.  The current Ugandan Parliamentary term officially ends on 18 May and there are increasing concerns the bill was deliberately postponed to be rushed through at the last minute.

Smith said:

"This is an odious piece of legislation, and if enacted would be a stain on the face of Uganda.  There is hateful legislation in too many countries across the world and I abhor them all, but we may be able to stop this one at least making it to the Statute book and there will be one fewer to worry about.  The President has acted against this once before, he must be encouraged to do so again.
"The EU sets great store by our promotion of human rights and equality, and collectively as Uganda's biggest aid and trade partner we have a position of real influence from which to urge the Ugandan legislators to see reason.  We must do more to put pressure upon the Ugandan Parliament and prevent them from voting in favour of this bill.  Baroness Ashton must act quickly to express the EU's disgust at this proposed legislation, and be willing to back up that disgust with action."