Uganda's parliament on Tuesday passed a controversial bill that criminalises identifying as LGBTQ, and threatens them with 10 years in jail, BBC reported. Violations under the law also draw steep penalties including death for so-called aggravated homosexuality and life in prison for gay sex.
More than 30 African countries, including Uganda, already ban same-sex relations and the new move constitutes a further crackdown on LGBTQ+ people. In addition to same-sex intercourse, the law bans promoting and abetting homosexuality as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality.
Friends, family and community members would now have a duty to report individuals in same-sex relationships to the authorities. Individuals or institutions which support or fund LGBT rights activities or organisations, also face prosecution and imprisonment.
Opposition lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa introduced the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2023 to Parliament, saying that the bill aims to ''protect our church culture; the legal, religious and traditional family values of Ugandans from the acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country.''
“The objective of the bill was to establish a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect traditional family values, our diverse culture, our faiths, by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex and the promotion or recognition of sexual relations between persons of the same sex,” said Mr Basalirwa.
It was supported by nearly all of the 389 legislators present. The bill will now go to President Yoweri Museveni who can choose to use his veto or sign it into law.
Meanwhile, human rights campaigners have criticised the new move, describing it as ''hate legislation''.
''Today marks a tragic day in Uganda's history. @Parliament_Ug has passed legislation that promotes hatred and seeks to strip LGBTIQ individuals of their fundamental rights!'' tweeted Sarah Kasande, a Kampala-based lawyer and human rights activist.
Today marks a tragic day in Uganda's history. @Parliament_Ug has passed legislation that promotes hatred and seeks to strip LGBTIQ individuals of their fundamental rights! The provisions of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill are barbaric, discriminatory and unconstitutional!— Sarah Kasande (@skasande2) March 21, 2023
Gay activist Eric Ndawula tweeted, ''Today's events in parliament are not just immoral, but a complete assault on humanity. It's frightening that our MPs' judgment is clouded by hate & homophobia. Who benefits from this draconian law?''
Today's events in Parliament are not just immoral, but a complete assault on humanity. It's frightening that our MPs' judgment is clouded by hate & homophobia. Who benefits from this draconian law? It's a question they'll likely never answer. #AntiHomosexualityBill2023 Draconian pic.twitter.com/CvQvNK3Oiz— Eric Ndawula🏳️🌈 (@EricNdawulaGrif) March 21, 2023
The bill, if signed into law, ''would violate multiple fundamental rights, including rights to freedom of expression and association, privacy, equality, and non-discrimination'', according to Human Rights Watch.