Drawing widespread condemnation, including from U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has officially signed into law one of the most stringent anti-homosexuality measures in the world. The enactment of the new legislation has sparked outrage and concerns about human rights violations and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.
Supporters of the legislation, primarily in Uganda, argue that they are seeking to safeguard their country from Western and liberal influences. They emphasize their cultural heritage and the importance of upholding traditional values, including heterosexual relationships.
Critics say the legislation is draconian as it not only reaffirms the existing punishment of life imprisonment for same-sex relationships but also introduces new offenses and harsh penalties. The bill effectively curtails activism and advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights, eradicating LGBTQ+ individuals from any form of social engagement.
The notable aspect of the new law is its imposition of capital punishment for certain behaviors, such as engaging in same-sex intercourse while being HIV positive, and establishes a 20-year prison sentence for the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality. Additionally, it criminalizes identification with non-binary gender identities. Essentially, the law targets individuals who publicly identify as lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, or any other sexual or gender identity that contradicts the binary male and female categories.
In this list, we outline ten key aspects of the bill, highlighting the alarming implications it holds for the rights and well-being of sexual and gender minorities in Uganda.
- Confirms punishment for same-sex conduct: The Uganda New Anti-Gay Bill affirms the existing punishment of life imprisonment for engaging in same-sex conduct. This provision reinforces the criminalization of same-sex relationships.
- Introduces “aggravated homosexuality” offense: The bill includes a provision for “aggravated homosexuality,” which calls for the death penalty in certain circumstances. This includes cases of “serial offenders” and individuals engaging in same-sex relations with a person with a disability, denying the capacity to consent.
- Outlaws the promotion of homosexuality: The bill criminalizes the “promotion of homosexuality” and institutes a system of complete censorship on LGBTQ+ issues. Advocating for LGBTQ+ rights or providing financial support to such organizations could result in up to 20 years of imprisonment.
- Restricts operation of LGBTQ+ rights groups: The bill declares LGBTQ+ rights groups as unable to legally operate. This restriction further curtails activism and advocacy for the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in Uganda.
- Criminalizes failure to report suspected same-sex acts: The bill makes it a crime for any person who fails to report someone they suspect of participating in same-sex acts to the police. This provision puts the burden on family members or friends of LGBTQ+ people to report them or face imprisonment.
- Criminalizes same-sex marriage ceremonies: Conducting a same-sex marriage ceremony is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment under the bill. This provision aims to prevent any form of public recognition or celebration of same-sex relationships.
- Criminalizes providing accommodation facilitating homosexuality: Renting a room or providing accommodation to a same-sex couple is considered a crime under the bill. This provision threatens individuals with up to 10 years imprisonment for enabling same-sex relationships.
- Expands criminalization of same-sex acts: The bill expands on the criminalization of same-sex acts, including broad prohibitions on acts such as touching another person “with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” This provision extends the scope of punishable conduct.
- Criminalizes identification with non-binary gender identities: The bill criminalizes any person who “holds out as a lesbian, gay, transgender, a queer, or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female.” This provision further targets individuals who do not conform to traditional gender norms.
- Violates multiple fundamental rights: The implementation of the Anti-Gay Bill would violate several fundamental rights guaranteed under Ugandan and international law, including freedom of expression, association, privacy, equality, and freedom from discrimination. The bill undermines the rights and well-being of sexual and gender minorities in Uganda.