Ugandan lawmakers recently approved some of the world’s harshest anti-gay laws, making some crimes punishable by death and imposing up to 20 years in prison for people identifying as LGBTQ+
Uganda ramps up its crackdown on LGBTQ
The new legislation constitutes a further crackdown on LGBTQ+ people in a country where same-sex relations were already illegal – punishable by life imprisonment.
It targets an array of activities and includes a ban on promoting and abetting homosexuality as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality.
According to the bill, the death penalty can be invoked for cases involving “aggravated homosexuality” – a broad term used in the legislation to describe sex acts committed without consent or under duress against children, people with mental or physical disabilities, by a “serial offender.”
“A person who commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality and is liable, on conviction, to suffer death,” read the amendments, which were presented by the chairperson for legal and parliamentary affairs, Robina Rwakoojo.
Opposition lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa introduced the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2023 to parliament, saying it aims to “protect our church culture; the legal, religious and traditional family values of Ugandans from the acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country.”
“The objective of the bill was to establish a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect traditional family values, our diverse culture, our faiths, by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex and the promotion or recognition of sexual relations between persons of the same sex,” Basalirwa said.
Ugandan LGBT advocate Frank Mugisha said he is concerned that the law could lead to mass arrests of LGBTQ+ people and mob violence against them, leaving people scared of being outed.
“The last time the legislation was around, there were cases of suicide so, this time, this law is worse than the one that was here before because it has a death penalty, and many people would be worried, many people would be scared,” he said.
“We will go to all courts in Uganda. If need be, we will go to the international court as well, but we definitely have to go to court and challenge this law,” added Mugisha.
The bill is expected to eventually go to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for assent. Museveni last week derided homosexuals as “deviants.”
“The homosexuals are deviations from normal. Why? Is it by nature or nurture? We need to answer these questions. We need a medical opinion on that. We shall discuss it thoroughly,” he said.
President tells Western countries to mind their own business
The president also hit back at Western countries trying to interfere in Uganda’s affairs, “Western countries should stop wasting the time of humanity by trying to impose their practices on other people.”
“Europeans and other groups marry cousins and near relatives. Here, marrying in one’s clan is taboo. Should we impose sanctions on them for marrying relatives? This is not our job,” he said.
Uganda made headlines in 2009 when it introduced an anti-homosexuality bill that included a death sentence for gay sex.
The country’s lawmakers passed a bill in 2014 but replaced the death penalty clause with a proposal for life in prison. That law was ultimately struck down.