Uganda Passes New Law To Jail People For Saying They Are Gay

Uganda Passes New Law To Jail People For Saying They Are Gay
Image: Ugandan MP Asuman Basalirwa introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 in Parliament. Image: Twitter

The Ugandan government on Tuesday passed a law criminalising citizens for identifying as LGBTQI, Uganda already criminalises homosexual acts and this new law ratchets up the continuing homophobic attacks on queer people in the country. 

Earlier this month, the Ugandan parliament granted  Bugiri Municipality MP, Mr  Asuman Basalirwa, leave to process the Anti-Gay Bill that would see the prohibition of same-sex relationships in Uganda. 

The proposed law makes it an offence to touch another person “with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality” and the “promotion of homosexuality”, according to Human Rights Watch. 

The legislation has targeted several actions, including declaring any same-sex conduct as nonconsensual, and has banned promoting homosexuality.  It has also criminalised any sexual and gender identity that is considered to be  “contrary to the binary categories of male and female”.

The bill will now go to President Yoweri Museveni, who can either veto it or sign it into law.

Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Opposition lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa introduced the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2023 to Parliament, saying the aim was to “protect our church culture”, “protect traditional family values” and prohibit “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”. 

Prior to the legislation,  homosexual acts were already punishable with life imprisonment.

When the bill was first introduced on March 9, Human Rights Watch stated that it would “violate multiple fundamental rights including the right to freedom of expression and association privacy, equality, and non-discrimination”.

The bill is expected to go to the current Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, who is known for his homophobic remarks. In a National Women’s Day celebration speech in 2014, he said, “I would rather lose the support of a small minority and maintain the sanity of our society than to appease homosexuality at the cost of our children”. 

Criminalising People Of Who They Are

Al Jazeera reported that last week police arrested 12 men for “practising homosexuality” in the southern lakeside town of Jinja. 

“One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalizes people simply for being who they are as well as further infringing on the rights to privacy, and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda,” Human Rights Watch Uganda researcher Oryem Nyeko said in a statement.

HRW researcher Nyeko called on politicians in the country to “stop targeting LGBTQI people for political capital”. 

While homosexuality is currently criminalised in over 30 countries in Africa,  Uganda’s new law is the first to outlaw identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ), according to Human Rights Watch. 

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