Uganda has once again come under the spotlight for its repressive stance towards the LGBTQ+ community. The country’s lawmakers have recently passed a bill that criminalizes identifying as LGBTQ+ and imposes a punishment of up to 10 years in prison for doing so. This move is seen as a further crackdown on LGBTQ+ people in a country where same-sex relations are already illegal.
The Anti Homosexuality Bill 2023, which was introduced by opposition lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa, aims to “protect traditional family values, our diverse culture, and our faiths” by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex and the promotion or recognition of such relationships. The bill also bans promoting and abetting homosexuality, as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality.
While some lawmakers have spoken out against the bill, stating that it violates established international and regional human rights standards, others argue that it is necessary to protect Ugandan culture and religious values. However, critics argue that the bill unfairly limits the fundamental rights of LGBTQ+ persons.
This move is not the first time that Uganda has attempted to pass anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. In 2009, the country introduced an anti-homosexuality bill that included a death sentence for gay sex. While the death penalty clause was later removed, the bill proposed life imprisonment for same-sex relations. This law was ultimately struck down.
Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, has also recently made derogatory remarks about homosexuals, referring to them as “deviants.” His stance on LGBTQ+ rights suggests that he may be inclined to approve the bill once it reaches him for assent.
The passing of this bill is likely to have serious implications for Uganda’s LGBTQ+ community, who already face persecution and discrimination in the country. It will further marginalize and stigmatize a vulnerable group, leading to increased discrimination and violence. It is imperative that the international community stands in solidarity with Uganda’s LGBTQ+ community and continues to advocate for their rights to be protected.