A new anti-gay bill has been presented in the Ugandan parliament that would threaten the fundamental rights of the LGBTQ community.
The newly introduced anti-gay bill would violate the freedom of expression, equality, and non-discrimination, which are considered fundamental rights of every human.
The 2023 Anti-Homosexuality bill was introduced in Parliament on March 9, 2023, by Asuman Basalirwas, a member of parliament.
The newly introduced bill is a way more heinous edition of the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act, which outlawed the promotion of homosexuality and strengthened existing prison penalties for same-sex acts but has been overturned by a court on procedural grounds.
Basalirwa said, in their nation as well as in the whole world people talk about human rights, but he said that humans do not always have human rights but also have human wrongs.
He argues that homosexuality is part of this human wrong that offends the laws in Uganda. He added that homosexuality will threaten the sanctity of families living in his nation.
A majority of the members of parliament favor Uganda’s new anti-gay bill, which calls for penalizing those who encourage or fund homosexuality.
Lawmakers believe that the new law intended to impose strict limitations on LGBTQ rights and activities will be implemented soon.
According to Oryem Nyeko, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, one of the significant aspects of this 2023 anti-gay bill is that it further violates the already compromised rights in Uganda while criminalizing people for being who they are.
He argues that Ugandan politicians and lawmakers should introduce laws that protect minorities instead of targeting the LGBTQ community.
The new Anti-Homosexuality Bill punishes those who make specific behaviors such as touching someone to commit an act of homosexuality. According to the bill, the maximum sentence for anyone convicted of the offense of homosexuality is ten-year imprisonment.
The bill criminalizes anybody who holds out as a homosexual, gay, transgender, queer, or any other sexual or gender identity that is adverse to the binary categories of male and female, with a sentence of up to ten years in jail. It’s illegal under the bill to have same-sex marriage.
Several public figures in Uganda have been hostile rhetoric toward sexual and gender minorities for months. It is the significant reason behind the introduction of a new bill.
Besides this, the government has been demolishing LGBTQ rights organizations and other human rights organizations, government critics, and civil society is another reason for the reintroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
A well-known LGBTQ rights organization called Sexual Minorites Uganda (SMUG) was banned in August 2022 by Uganda’s National Bureau for Nongovernmental Organizations since it had not been formally registered with them.
Later in January 2023, the bureau banned 26 other organizations for promoting homosexuality and forced recruitment of school children.
Since the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Bill was overturned, Parliament has made several attempts to criminalize homosexuality, including the reintroduction of the 2023 Bill.
The sexual offenses Bill, which was approved by Parliament in 2021, banned any sexual conduct between persons of the same gender and anal sex between individuals of any gender.
According to this bill, it was a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. President Yoweri Museveni rejected this bill in August 2021 and sent it back to parliament because it duplicated offenses already covered by the Criminal Code.
According to Human Rights Watch, Uganda’s continuing criminalization of same-sex behavior and detentions of sexual minorities have had a significant impact.
The LGBTQ community saw a noticeable increase in mass arrests, abuses from police, extortions, unemployment, evictions, and homelessness within five months of the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act’s approval. The bill has even led many people to flee from their native land.
Some groups, including religious and cultural leaders, had already called for a stricter ban before the bill was ever brought to parliament.
Many religious leaders participated in a prayer ceremony held in parliament. The speaker of the parliament, Anita Among, said they want to applaud the homosexuality promoters for the social and economic growth they have brought to the country.
She was referring to western nations and donors. She added they don’t appreciate that they are violating morals, they need their culture more than money which is why they strictly oppose homosexuality and other conducts related to it.
Some people including Human Right Watch claim that the parliament’s introduction of the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill and their acts related to it is for covering the other flaws or other real issues that affect the people in Uganda.
Living in Uganda as a member of the LGBTQ community is already difficult. All the homosexual people in Uganda are in fear due to the strict laws implemented in the nation for years.
Reintroducing these laws and acts on homosexuality which is already illegal in the nation would exploit the LGBTQ community and it’s a kind of harassment against them.
They are already vulnerable in the nation and harassing them by such acts is highly critical and is against the fundamental rights of a human being.