Uganda approves controversial anti-gay law and anyone convicted of ‘repeated gayness’ will be put to death
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Uganda has enacted a harsh bill where LGBTQIA+ people could be put to death.
Reuters reported that Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed one of the world's strictest anti-LGBTQ laws, including the death penalty under ‘aggravated homosexuality’ for ‘serial offenders’, which they called 'repeated gayness'.
While homosexuality is illegal in more than 30 African countries, this policy hits a new frontier.
The speaker of the Ugandan parliament, Anita Annet Among, confirmed via social media that Museveni had signed the law, which imposes the death penalty or life imprisonment for certain same-sex acts.
Those who ‘promote’ homosexuality or have gay sex while HIV-positive could face 20 years in prison, and anyone convicted of attempted aggravated homosexuality’ faces a 14-year sentence.
US President Joe Biden has condemned the new law, labeling it a ‘tragic violation of universal human rights’.
“We are considering additional steps, including the application of sanctions and restriction of entry into the United States against anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption,” he said in a statement.
Clare Byarugaba, a Ugandan rights activist, told Reuters: "The Ugandan president has today legalised state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia.”
The UK government added that it was ‘appalled’, calling the bill ‘deeply discriminatory’.
UNAIDs and the Global Health Fund to Fight Aids have released a joint statement, saying the country’s HIV response is now in 'grave jeopardy’.
“The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 will obstruct health education and the outreach that can help end AIDS as a public health threat," it said.
"The stigma and discrimination associated with the passage of the Act has already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services."
In 2014, Uganda passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which officially made it illegal to engage in sexual relations between persons of the same sex.
The bill was signed into law by President Museveni on 24 February 2014.
However, later that year, the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the act was invalid on procedural grounds.
Human Watch Rights reported that LGBTQIA+ people have faced a notable increase in arbitrary arrests, police abuse and extortion, loss of employment, evictions and homelessness since the bill was first introduced.
“What the government is attempting should set off alarm bells among civil society groups in Uganda, and in the international community, as it signals increased repression and the stifling of opposition voices and civil society groups across the board," Oryem Nyeko, Uganda researcher at Human Rights Watch said.