My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
Following the tabling of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill before the Ugandan Parliament which provides for imprisonment and the death penalty for infringements of the Bill, civil society organisations in Africa are mobilizing to persuade Ugandan Parliamentarians to block this pernicious Bill. The Bill could become law during the course of this year.
Kindly submit your endorsement on or before 12h00, Monday, 29 March (SA time). Please supply the full name of your organisation together with your full name, office address, telephone contact details and organizational website. Please also indicate in your email that you have been authorised by your organisation to endorse the statement.
Please send your endorsement to Ms Adila Hassim of the AIDS Law Project at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> and cc her assistant Ella Scheepers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also copy your email to Ms Phumi Mtetwa of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project at email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> . Please note that this campaign is open only to organisations with a physical presence on the African continent. With regard to prominent individuals, the campaign is only open to those persons who are from Africa. Aside from the Ugandan Parliament, the statement and list of endorsements will also be submitted to African Governments as well as the African Union.
Those behind the Bill have claimed that only international organisations and western bodies are against the Bill. We believe that this campaign will demonstrate that civil society organisations throughout the length and breadth of Africa will stand together as one for the human rights of all Africans.
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STATEMENT BY AFRICAN CIVIL SOCIETYWe, the individuals and organisations from African countries listed hereunder, recognise the universality of the human rights of all persons.
We affirm that the right of men and women to have same sex relationships is a fundamental human right.
We are further guided in the knowledge that all forms of discrimination, in particular against vulnerable groups, undermine the human dignity of all in Africa.
We are therefore profoundly disturbed by the nature, content and potential impact of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (“the Bill”) that was recently tabled in and is currently being considered by the Parliament of Uganda.
We believe that the Bill, if enacted, will cut deeply into the fabric of Ugandan society by–
· Violating the rights of an already vulnerable and severely stigmatised group of persons by attacking their dignity, privacy and other constitutionally protected rights; · Disrupting family and community life by compelling everyone, by the threat of criminal sanction, to report those suspected of engaging in same-sex sexual activity; · Seeking to withdraw Uganda from the family of nations by reneging on the country’s international law obligations; · Undermining public health interventions such as HIV prevention, treatment, care and support; ·Promoting prejudice and hate and encouraging harmful and violent action to be taken against those engaging in same sex relations.
We also call on African governments and the African Union to call on the President and Government of Uganda to withdraw the Bill and to respect the human rights of all in Uganda, without exception.