Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni faces calls from the United Nations and the United States to reject the anti-gay bill on March 22.
After a chaotic seven-hour session, Ugandan lawmakers approved the Anti-Homosexuality Act on Tuesday. The act mandates severe punishments for anyone who engages in same-sex activity.
On Wednesday, the UN human rights director asked Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to reject a bill that would have heavy punishments for some homosexual acts, including the death penalty and life in prison.
Volker Turk, the United Nation high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement that approving this discriminatory bill, likely among the worst of its kind in the world, is a deeply troubling development. He pleaded with President Museveni not to sign the bill into law.
According to Volker Turk, Lesbian, gay and bisexual persons in Uganda will become criminals just for existing and for being who they are if President Museveni signs it into law. It might grant Carte Blanche the systematic violation of practically all of their human rights and help to stir people against one another, he added.
John Kirby, the spokesman for the National Security Council in the United States, stated that if the bill were to become law, Washington would have to look into putting economic sanctions on Uganda. Since most American aid takes the form of health support, particularly anti-AIDS help, he said that this would be extremely sad.
Amnesty International also urged President Museveni to reject the appalling law calling it a grave assault on homosexual individuals. It declared that President Museveni must promptly reject this horrific proposal, claiming that it would institutionalize discrimination, hatred, and prejudice against the homosexual community.
According to Tigere Chagutah, director of Amnesty International’s east and southern Africa division, the anti-LGBTQ bill is a loosely written and confusing law that even criminalizes anyone who encourages homosexuality.
Ugandan lawmaker Fox Odoi-Oyelowo, a member of Mr. Museveni’s National Resistance Movement Party, who testified against the law, said that offenders would risk life imprisonment or potentially the death penalty for aggravated offenses.
According to tweets from the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the legislation would undermine the fundamental human rights of all Ugandans. He joined calls for the government to reconsider the bill.
Nicholas Herbert, the special envoy for LGBTQ rights under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, warned that the bill has the risk of escalating discrimination and persecution of people accessing Uganda. Andrew Mitchell, the British minister for Africa, expressed his deep disappointment with the bill’s passage.
The discussion on the Anti-LGBTQ bill in parliament has been filled with homophobic language and President Museveni referred to LGBTQ individuals as ‘deviants’ last week.
Museveni has often expressed that he does not see the matter as a priority and would instead want to keep a positive relationship with Western donors and investors.
In the conservative East African country, homosexuality was already against the law. It is not disclosed more about the punishments stated in the anti-LGBTQ bill, but there are rumors that some offenders might face the death penalty or even life in prison.
“aggravated homosexuality” supposedly carries the death penalty in the bill that Ugandan lawmakers passed. The term “aggravated homosexuality” refers to sex relationships involving HIV-positive individuals, minors, and other vulnerable groups of people.
According to reports, the ant-LGBTQ bill specifies that the maximum sentence for someone found guilty of attempted aggravated homosexuality is 14 years in prison and that the maximum sentence for someone found guilty of attempted homosexuality is 10 years.
Life in prison is the penalty for homosexuality, the same punishment outlined in a penal code from the colonial era that did same-sex acts against the order of nature.
Although Uganda’s laws from the colonial era made homosexuality illegal, since the country’s independence from Britain in 1962, there has never been a conviction for consensual same-sex conduct. In 2014, Ugandan lawmakers approved a law mandating life in prison for anyone found engaging in homosexual intercourse.
Due to reported accusations of sodomy in boarding schools, where a parent accused a teacher of abusing her son. Recent incidents like these made the rise in anti-LGBTQ sentiment in Uganda recently.
Many people have been angered by the Church of England’s recent decision to sanction same-sex marriage, especially those who believe homosexuality is an imported disease. Recent years have seen an increase in pressure on Uganda’s LGBTQ population from civilian officials who desired a strict new law prohibiting same-sex behavior.
The largest LGBTQ organization in Uganda, Sexual Minorities Uganda, had its operations suspended last year after being accused of violating the law by the body in charge of monitoring non-governmental organizations.
The 2023 Anti-Homosexuality bill was introduced in parliament on March 9, 2023, by Asuman Basalirwa, a member of parliament. This is followed by the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, which strengthened current prison penalties for same-sex activities and banned the promotion of homosexuality. On Tuesday, the bill was approved by the authorities with harsh laws against homosexual relationships.