Uganda passes new law against LGBTQIA+ community

For the second time recently, Uganda has passed one of the harshest anti-LGBTQIA+ bills in history, after President Yoweri Museveni, under pressure from the EU and UN, asked for some changes. The law, originally passed on 21 March, makes it an offence to belong to the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as demanding relatives and colleagues ‘out’ their LGBTQIA+ friends. As it was deemed unconstitutional, the law was then amended, avoiding the criminalisation of homosexual people. Uganda’s own Deputy Attorney General, Jackson Kafuuzi, had suggested to parliament that the mandatory death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’, which became law six weeks ago, be removed.

There is one detail, however: the death sentence for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ has remained in place, and is now applied to certain acts between persons of the same sex, as well as for sexual relations involving HIV-positive persons, and for serious crimes such as rape and sexual abuse of children. The bill just passed also confirms imprisonment for people who support or promote LGBTQIA+ rights. The improper comparison between homosexuality and committing serious crimes of violence and abuse is evident and chilling in reality. President Yoweri Museveni, who had attempted to use scientific reasoning to ascertain whether homosexuality was abnormal (being denied, of course), will now have to sign the bill, which has already once been considered, and partially failed by Parliament. The UN has described the bill as “an enormous violation of human rights”, while the United States of America has warned Uganda of the foreseeable economic consequences, should the President sign the bill. Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has called it “devastating and deeply disturbing”. According to him, should the law become final, it will have “serious negative repercussions on society and erode gains made over the years”, thus opening the door to “systemic violation” of the human rights of “almost all LGBTQIA+ people”. Even Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned the bill with Oryem Nyeko confirming: “one of the most extreme features of this new bill is the further violation of rights to privacy and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda”. Sadly it’s easy to assume that the 78-year-old Museveni, president of Uganda since January 1986, a renowned homophobe who has repeatedly described LGBTQIA people as “deviants”, might this time ratify the law, bringing it definitively into force. A law that criminalises people simply for being who they are.

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