On Tuesday, Ugandan legislators approved stringent anti-gay laws, with some offenses carrying the death penalty and up to 20 years imprisonment for LGBTQ+ individuals. The new laws further oppress LGBTQ+ people in a country where same-sex relations are already illegal and punishable by life imprisonment.
The legislation bans promoting and abetting homosexuality and conspiracy to engage in homosexuality. The death penalty applies to “aggravated homosexuality,” which includes non-consensual sex acts, acts committed under duress, against children or those with disabilities, by serial offenders, or involving incest. Opposition lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa introduced the bill, claiming it aims to protect Ugandan cultural, legal, religious, and traditional family values.
Critics argue that the bill contradicts international and regional human rights standards and unfairly restricts LGBTQ+ individuals’ fundamental rights. Ugandan LGBT advocate Frank Mugisha warned of potential mass arrests and mob violence against LGBTQ+ people, resulting in fear of being outed.
Rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) cautioned that the law would violate Ugandans’ rights and called on politicians to stop targeting LGBT individuals for political gain.
Anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment is deeply rooted in the conservative and religious East African nation. Uganda introduced a similar bill in 2009 and passed another in 2014, which was later struck down.