Uganda parliament enacted some of the world’s harshest anti-gay legislation on Tuesday, making some crimes punishable by death and imposing up to 20 years in prison for LGBTQ+ persons.
The new legislation is an additional crackdown on LGBTQ+ persons in a country where same-sex relationships are already banned and punishable by life in prison.
According to Reuters, it prohibits a variety of behaviors, including advocating and abetting homosexuality as well as conspiring to engage in homosexuality.
The death penalty, according to the bill, can be applied in 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,” or involving incest.
“A person who commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality and is liable to death on conviction,” said the revisions proposed by Robina Rwakoojo, the chairperson for legal and legislative affairs.
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Asuman Basalirwa, an opposition legislator, introduced the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2023 in parliament.
Claiming that it intends to “protect our church culture; the legal, religious, and traditional family values of Ugandans from acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country.”
“The goal of the bill was to establish comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect traditional family values.
Our diverse culture, and our faiths by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex.
The promotion or recognition of sexual relations between persons of the same sex,” Basalirwa said on Tuesday.
Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, a lawmaker from Nigeria, spoke out against the measure, stating it “violates established international and regional human rights standards” and “unfairly limits the fundamental rights of LGBTQ+ persons.”
According to Ugandan LGBT advocate Frank Mugisha, the bill might result in huge arrests of LGBTQ people and mob violence against them, leaving people fearful of being outed.
“There were cases of suicide the last time the legislation was around, 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 appear in all Ugandan courts.”
If necessary, we will also go to the International Court of Justice, but we must surely go to court and oppose this law,” Mugisha continued.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a warning earlier this month that the law will violate Ugandans’ rights.
“One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalizes people simply for being who they are.
As well as further infringing on the already compromised rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and association in Uganda.”
HRW Uganda researcher Oryem Nyeko said in a statement calling on Ugandan politicians to “stop targeting LGBT people for political capital.”
The bill is expected to be signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni called homosexuals “deviants” last week.
In the highly traditional and religious East African country, anti-LGBTQ+ attitude is firmly ingrained.
Uganda made headlines in 2009 when it passed an anti-homosexuality bill that carried the death penalty for homosexual sex.
In 2014, MPs in the country passed a bill, but they substituted the death penalty language with a proposal for life in prison.
That law was eventually overturned.