Ugandan lawmakers have approved a new bill that contains some of the world's harshest “anti-gay” laws. The new legislation imposes up to 20 years in prison for individuals identifying as LGBTQIA+ and even the death penalty for cases involving "aggravated homosexuality."
The term "aggravated homosexuality" is used to describe sex acts committed without consent or under duress, against children, people with mental or physical disabilities, by a "serial offender," or involving incest, and the death penalty can be imposed for such cases.
This new law further oppresses LGBTQIA+ individuals in Uganda, where same-gender relations were already illegal and punishable by life imprisonment. The legislation targets a wide range of activities, including promoting and abetting homosexuality and engaging in homosexuality.
The bill's sponsor claims it aims to protect the country's traditional family values, culture, and faiths. However, opposition lawmakers and rights advocacy groups have condemned the law as a violation of fundamental human rights and an infringement on the rights to privacy and freedom of expression and association. The law could lead to mass arrests and mob violence against LGBTQIA+ individuals, leaving many in fear of being outed. Anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment is deeply entrenched in Uganda, a highly conservative and religious East African nation, and has called on politicians to stop targeting LGBTQIA+ individuals for political gain.
The bill is expected to go to President Yoweri Museveni for approval. Museveni has previously derided homosexual individuals as "deviants." Uganda's deeply conservative and religious society has long been hostile to the LGBTQIA+ community. Uganda made international headlines in 2009 when it introduced an anti-homosexuality bill that included a death sentence for same-gender intercourses. In 2014, Uganda's lawmakers passed a bill that included a proposal for life imprisonment instead of the death penalty for LGB individuals which was ultimately struck down.