Uganda approves anti-LGBTQ laws including 20-year sentence for 'promoting' homosexuality

Uganda approves anti-LGBTQ laws including 20-year sentence for 'promoting' homosexuality

Tuesday 30/05/2023
The bill is one of the harshest anti-LGBT laws in the world.(Reuters: Abubaker Lubowa)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed one of the world's harshest anti-LGBTQ laws, defying condemnations from Western governments, businesses and human rights activists.

Same-sex relations were already illegal in Uganda, as they are in more than 30 African countries, but the new law goes further in targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

It imposes the death penalty for so-called aggravated homosexuality, which includes having gay sex when HIV-positive, and a 20-year sentence for "promoting" homosexuality.

A photo showed Mr Museveni signing the law with a golden pen at his desk.

The 78-year-old has called homosexuality a "deviation from normal" and urged politicians to resist "imperialist" pressure.

Western backlash

"The Ugandan president has today legalised state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia," Clare Byarugaba, a Ugandan rights activist, said.

US President Joe Biden condemned the law, saying the United States will evaluate the implications of the law "on all aspects of US engagement with Uganda".

"This shameful act is the latest development in an alarming trend of human rights abuses and corruption in Uganda," Mr Biden said in a statement.

Several other countries have spoken out against the law.

The UK said it was "appalled", calling the bill "deeply discriminatory".

Meanwhile, Canadia's foreign minister said it was ""abhorrent, cruel and unjust".

On May 2, parliament passed a revised bill that made minor amendments while leaving most of the original legislation intact.

The amended version stipulated that merely identifying as LGBTQ is not a crime and revised a measure that obliged people to report homosexual activity to only require reporting when a child is involved.

The US government said last month that it was assessing the implications for activities in Uganda under its flagship HIV/AIDS program.

Global health groups, including UNAIDS and the the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, released a joint statement after the bill was signed.

"Uganda's progress on its HIV response is now in grave jeopardy," the statement said.

"The stigma and discrimination associated with the passage of the Act has already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services."

A coalition of international companies, including Google, also criticised the legislation, warning it would put those with operations in Uganda in an impossible position and hurt the country's economy.

By: Reuters

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