Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has officially signed one of the world’s toughest anti-LGBTQ+ laws, drawing criticism and threats of sanctions from countries around the world.
Among it’s rulings, the Anti-Homosexuality Act includes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and a 20-year sentence for “promoting” homosexuality.
Originally passed on 21 March, the bill was then returned to Parliament by Museveni who demanded that it be made even harsher. On 29 May, Museveni then signed the final version of the bill into law.
Homosexuality and same-sex relations were already illegal in Uganda, but the new Anti-Homosexuality Act sets a precedent for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the country.
US President Joe Biden has called for the “immediate repeal” of the legislation, describing the move as “a tragic violation” of human rights.
“We are considering additional steps, including the application of sanctions and restriction of entry into the United States against anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption,” Biden said.
The UN Human Rights Office described “the draconian and discriminatory” new act as “a recipe for systematic violations of the rights of LGBT people” as well as the wider population.
#Uganda: We are appalled that the draconian and discriminatory anti-gay bill is now law. It is a recipe for systematic violations of the rights of LGBT people & the wider population. It conflicts with the Constitution and international treaties and requires urgent judicial… pic.twitter.com/cD7Gnwap95
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) May 29, 2023
Also in the UK, the country’s international development minister Andrew Mitchell also condemned the Act.
“This legislation undermines the protections and freedoms of all Ugandans enshrined in the Ugandan constitution.
“It will increase the risk of violence, discrimination and persecution, will set back the fight against HIV/Aids, and will damage Uganda’s international reputation,” Mitchell said.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who voted against same-sex marriage in the US and has previously attacked transgender access to bathrooms, also tweeted in criticism of the Act.
This Uganda law is horrific & wrong.
Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is grotesque & an abomination.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 29, 2023
After the bill was signed into law, the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, a local Ugandan organisation, as well as 10 individuals, filed a complaint against the Anti-Homosexuality Act at the constitutional court, petitioner Busingye Kabumba told Reuters.
LGBTQ+ activists on the ground and around the world have been campaigning to quash the bill ever since its passing in March, with Moud Goba, Chair of the Board of Trustees at UK Black Pride and National Manager, previously telling GAY TIMES that “Ugandan LGBTQI people are living in fear”.