Uganda’s State-Sponsored Homophobia
While the LGBTQI+ population in Uganda has long faced discrimination and persecution, the new Anti-Homosexuality Act is deeply troubling. Influenced by US-based right-wing and religious groups, the legislation imposes severe penalties, including the death penalty, for certain same-sex acts.
KAMPALA – In late May, Ugandan President Yoweri Musevenisigned the Anti-Homosexuality Act, a new law that institutionalizes the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) people and, more broadly, promotes a culture of hate.
The Act is one of the world’s harshest anti-LGBTQI+ laws. It criminalizes consensual same-sex relations and imposes severe penalties, including life imprisonment for anyone who engages in gay sex and the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” defined as homosexual acts involving individuals infected with HIV, children, or disabled people. Equally worrying is the broad and vague provision that outlaws the “promotion of homosexuality” and mandates a prison term of up to 20 years for offenders.
Beyond being punitive, this anti-gay legislation infringes on Ugandans’ constitutional rights, including the right to privacy, freedom from discrimination and from cruel and degrading treatment, and the presumption of innocence. Moreover, by criminalizing the promotion of homosexuality, the Anti-Homosexuality Act shuts down debate, limits access to HIV-related services, and curtails freedom of expression, thought, assembly, and association.
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