A 20-year-old man in Uganda has become the second individual to be charged under the nation’s controversial Anti-Homosexuality Act, which carries the potential for a death penalty. Amnesty International has called on the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Uganda to urgently drop the “aggravated homosexuality” charges, highlighting the inherent human rights concerns.
Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, remarked, “It’s alarming that Ugandan authorities continue to target individuals based on perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity. The ongoing discrimination and persecution of the LGBTI community must be addressed.”
Details from the legal team representing the accused reveal that he was arrested on 15 August 2023 at Soroti Sports Ground, alongside a 41-year-old individual. Both were detained on accusations of engaging in homosexual relations. The older individual was released the same day, while the younger man remained in custody until 18 August. The older individual’s release, according to police statements, was due to his inability to give consent owing to his “mental status.”
The DPP’s office provided an alternate perspective, noting that the 41-year-old is a person living with a disability. Legal representatives have raised concerns over the lack of evidence presented by police regarding these assertions.
Furthermore, the attorneys highlighted that the police performed invasive anal examinations on the detained individual, a procedure that Amnesty International strictly opposes, stating it “violates the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law.”
The Anti-Homosexuality Act, ratified in May 2023, presents a set of stringent rules and penalties, with the harshest being the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” Amnesty International remains staunchly against the death penalty, asserting that it should never be applied, irrespective of the circumstances.
In recent months, there has been an uptick in charges and violence against the LGBTI community, as reported by the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), a Ugandan NGO. In just two months, June and July 2023, HRAPF documented 149 instances of violence against LGBTI individuals, which included threats, evictions, and other forms of aggression.