A Ugandan transgender woman who was recently attacked and currently being sheltered watches a TV screen showing the live broadcast of the session from the Parliament for the anti-gay bill. Photo: STUART TIBAWESWA/AFP via Getty Images
Uganda’s parliament has passed one of the world’s strictest anti-gay laws. The legislation makes it illegal to identify as gay and introduces punishments for some acts that rise from 20 years in prison to the death penalty. It’s already illegal in Uganda to be in a homosexual relationship. This new law expands on the country’s 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act by criminalising simply saying that you’re LGBTQ.
The bill calls for life in prison for having gay sex and the death penalty for anyone found guilty of committing “aggravated homosexuality,” without actually defining the term. It also introduces a five-year sentence for “promoting homosexuality” while a person who touches someone “with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality” or is found guilty of the “offence of homosexuality” could receive a prison sentence of between 1o and 20 years. The law will now go to President Yoweri Museveni who can decide to either sign it into law or veto the legislation. In a statement, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for the government to reject the bill, saying it “would violate multiple fundamental rights…[and] the rights to freedom of expression and association privacy, equality, and non-discrimination.”“One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalises people simply for being who they are as well as further infringing on the rights to privacy, and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda,” Oryem Nyeko, a Uganda researcher at HRW, said. “Ugandan politicians should focus on passing laws that protect vulnerable minorities and affirm fundamental rights and stop targeting LGBT people for political capital.”