Love is a Right, Hate is a Crime

Source: Amnesty International USA

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Amnesty International USA in the theme of “Bringing Human Rights Home.” Read all posts in the series here.

Love is a Right, Hate is a Crime

Over the weekend, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill that criminalizes being gay. Moreover, it criminalizes the “promotion of homosexuality,” which will directly impact human rights defenders, healthcare providers or others providing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

These additional restrictions on top of already discriminatory policies directly undermine the human rights to privacy, health and freedom of expression and association – as the way the laws in Uganda and Nigeria have been written, conducting sex education or trainings on HIV and AIDS could be interpreted as promoting homosexuality and result in jail time of several years.

Such discriminatory laws against members of the LGBT community do not only exist across oceans. An unfortunate comparison can be drawn with legislative proceedings happening right here in the United States.

After widespread public outcry, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed one such bill Wednesday that that would have allowed business owners to deny service to gay and lesbian customers. This bill, spearheaded ostensibly on the grounds of “protecting religious liberty,” would have protected no one’s freedom, but rather would have served to perpetuate intolerance and hostility.

Similar laws have been introduced and await passage in Kansas, Oregon, Oklahoma and Idaho.

Lest anyone suggest discrimination in the United States is benign in comparison to what has unfolded in Uganda, we should take a closer look at the pain and suffering – and yes, the hatred – laws like these fuel.

Uganda’s legislation will institutionalize hatred and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Uganda, just as similar legislation has done in other African countries. In Cameroon, family members of one gay man reportedly prevented him from seeking medical treatment because, for them, it was better that he was dead than alive and gay.

In Nigeria, within hours of President Goodluck Jonathan signing the comparable Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, people accused of being gay were rounded up and arrested in at least four states, while others suspected of being gay were placed on watch lists.

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