Uganda enacts one of the strictest laws in the world that makes being LGBTQ a crime
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- Published on March 23, 2023
- Last Updated May 15, 2023
- In Culture
Due to his support for the legislation, it is expected that the President of Uganda will sign the anti-LGBTQ bill into law.
On March 21, the Ugandan parliament passed a bill criminalizing LGBTQ identity, giving the government wide latitude to go after gay Ugandans, who are already subject to discrimination and mob violence.
Uganda is one of more than 30 African countries that have outright prohibited same-sex couples. Human Rights Watch asserts that the recently introduced law is the first of its kind to criminalize being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ).
The law’s proponents argue that it is necessary to punish a wider range of LGBTQ activities because they pose a threat to traditional values in the conservative and religious East African nation, reports Reuters.
Promoting or aiding homosexuality, as well as conspiring to engage in homosexual activity, are both illegal.
Death sentences are possible for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” and life sentences are possible for those convicted of engaging in homosexual sex. The law defines aggravated homosexuality as having homosexual sex with anyone under the age of 18, or with anyone who is HIV positive.
Only two of the nearly 400 representatives present in the crowded chamber opposed the anti-homosexuality bill, which was passed by a large majority, according to NPR.
Prominent activists and civil rights groups in the country have voiced harsh opposition to the legislation. Richard Lusimbo, a Ugandan LGBTQ activist, told NPR, “The LGBTQI community has basically been told, you can’t raise your head, you can’t be seen, you can’t be heard.”
Nonetheless, Lusimbo believes that, like many others, this law was enacted due to pressure from both inside and outside the country.
“From the very start, this whole bill coming into Uganda was because of, for example, American evangelicals who would come to Uganda,” Lusimbo said. And what’s happening in Uganda is not just in isolation.”
Fast and widespread international condemnation resulted in the bill’s passing. Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, tweeted that the bill “would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans.”
“We urge the Ugandan Government to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation,” Blinken continued.
It is anticipated that President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda will sign the bill into law due to his support for the legislative measures.
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