These NGOs – OUT (Pretoria), Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (Johannesburg), Forum for the Empowerment of Women (Johannesburg), Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre, Pietermaritzburg Gay and Lesbian Network and Triangle Project (Cape Town) – collaborate on the Love not Hate programme addressing hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in South Africa.

While anal sex was already illegal in Uganda, with penalties including life imprisonment, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill also extends the ban to any kind of same-sex sex – including lesbianism – and punishes repeat “offenders” and attempts by same-sex couples to marry with life imprisonment.

In addition, anyone who “aids, abets [or] counsels” any gay person and anyone who rents a house or room to a gay person could also be sentenced to seven years in jail. The Bill further includes criminal penalties of five to seven years in prison for anyone who “promotes” homosexuality.

South Africa offers constitutional protection on the basis of sexual orientation and it has gone a long way in establishing dignity and equality for all in South Africa.

Dawie Nel, the Director of OUT, notes: “Based on the South African Constitution, the South African Government needs to speak out and take a leadership role in addressing homophobia on the continent. It has national and international obligations to do so. We can’t allow governments, possibly for their own cheap political gains, to endanger the human rights of LGBTI people or anyone else for that matter.”

The Love not Hate programme calls on the South African Government to:

• as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), to engage in “constructive dialogue and consultation for the enhancement of understanding and the promotion of all human rights” (HRC Resolution 119/33). This includes the rights of LGBTI persons and the South African Government should urgently convene regional forums on addressing discrimination against LGBTI people

• enter into bi-national dialogue with the Ugandan Government on the need for legal protection and social programmes to address discrimination against LGBTI people. The Government must be public about its efforts to conduct such dialogues

• call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to condemn the adoption of the Bill, as it violates numerous rights under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the right to association and freedom of expression.

The Love not Hate programme will make contact with the South African Government to ensure that needed actions are undertaken.