Uganda’s president rubber-stamps tough new anti-LGBTQ law

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed one of the world’s strongest anti-homosexuality laws into law, bringing considerable outrage both domestically and internationally. Same sex relationships were already prohibited in Uganda, as they are in over 30 other African countries,

but the new law goes considerably further in targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons.

It imposes the death penalty for certain behaviors, including having gay intercourse when HIV positive, and a 20-year sentence for “promoting” homosexuality.

The law’s adoption defies objections from Western governments, corporations, and human rights organizations. According to Museveni’s office, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 was one of six pieces of legislation that were ratified  by the president on Sunday.

Recently, lawmakers passed a fresh draft of the legislation, vowing to oppose what they called outside intervention in their efforts to safeguard Uganda’s values from Western immorality. The altered version said that while identifying as gay would not be criminalized, “engaging in acts of

homosexuality” would be a life sentence punishable by death.

Pepe Julian Onziema, a human rights activist in Kampala, told local dailies  that he is “horrified” for himself, the community, and the country’s human rights. US Vice President Joe Biden urged for the law to be repealed immediately, calling it “a tragic breach of universal human rights” and threatening to halt aid and investment to the East African country. According to European Union foreign policy leader Josep Borrell, the proposal violates international human rights law and will harm the country’s relations with its worldwide allies.

“This law is contrary to international human rights law and to Uganda’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, including commitments on dignity and non-discrimination, and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment,” Borrell said in a statement.

“The Ugandan government has an obligation to protect all of its citizens and uphold their basic rights. Failure to do so will undermine relationships with international partners,” he said.

The government of the United Kingdom stated it was “appalled,” adding that it was adamantly opposed to the death sentence in any circumstances. After Western governments initially withheld some aid, imposed visa restrictions, and reduced security cooperation, a domestic court

struck down a less restrictive anti-LGBTQ law in 2014. Uganda receives billions of dollars in international aid every year and may now face further penalties.


















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