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Uganda criminalizes identifying as gay: imposes life imprisonment & death penalty 

Uganda criminalizes identifying as gay: imposes life imprisonment & death penalty 

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Uganda’s parliament has passed a new law that criminalizes identifying as LGBTQ and imposes heavy penology on any Ugandan identifying as LGBTQ stating it “threatens their culture”.

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Gay activists sue the Uganda government. |Picture: alliance/AP. Photo/R. Vassie

Kampala: Uganda, 

Along with almost 30 neighboring countries, Uganda’s parliament has passed new antigay legislation with a majority of votes passing the new law of criminalizing not just same-sex intercourse or relationships but illegalizing to be identifying, promoting, or “abetting” homosexual activities, as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality. 

Perpetrators are to be imposed with steep penalties of heavy fines, 20 years or lifelong imprisonment, or even death penalties for so-called “aggravated” homosexuality in the country. 

The legislation will now be sent to President Yoweri Museveni where he can sign to pass the law or use the veto. 

Museveni has yet not commented on the new law but has long opposed LGBTQ rights and signed an anti-LGBTQ law in 2013. 

The ayes have it,” Parliamentary Speaker Anita Annet Among said after the final vote supported by almost all the 389 members of parliament voted for passing the law. 

The new law, if passed, will be the first to illegalize merely identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ), according to the rights group Human Rights Watch. 

Supporters & Opposition of the new law: 

Lawmaker David Bahati said during the debate on the bill, “Our creator God is happy (about) what is happening … I support the bill to protect the future of our children.” 

It is also believed by many supporters of the law that it is needed to punish a broader array of LGBTQ activities, which they claim threaten traditional values in the conservative and religious East African nation. 

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Member of Parliament John Musira dressed in an anti-gay gown gestures as he leaves the chambers during the debate of the Anti-Homosexuality bill, which proposes tough new penalties for same-sex relations, in Kampala, Uganda (REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa).

Frank Mugisha, a prominent Ugandan LGBTQ activist denounced the legislation as draconian and says “This law is very extreme and draconian … it criminalizes being an LGBTQ person, but also they are trying to erase the entire existence of any LGBTQ Ugandan.” Mugisha is also an executive director of SMUG, a nongovernment umbrella organization for Sexual Minorities in Uganda. 

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Protesters celebrate the annulment of an anti-homosexuality law by Uganda’s constitutional courtImage: REUTERS. 

Meanwhile, Amnesty International called the Bill “appalling”, “ambiguous” and “vaguely worded”. “This deeply repressive legislation will institutionalize discrimination, hatred, and prejudice against LGBT people — including those who are perceived to be LGBT,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa. 

LGBTQ community in Uganda: 

  • In recent weeks, Uganda authorities have cracked down on LGBTQ people after religious leaders and politicians alleged students were being recruited into homosexuality in schools.
  • This month, authorities arrested a secondary school teacher in the eastern district of Jinja over accusations of “grooming of young girls into unnatural sex practices”. She was subsequently charged with gross indecency and is in prison awaiting trial.
  • The police this week also arrested six people accused of running a network that was “actively involved in the grooming of young boys into acts of sodomy. 
  • The Ugandan agency overseeing the work of NGOs last year stopped the operations of Sexual Minorities Uganda, the most prominent LGBTQ organization in the country, accusing it of failing to register legally. But the group’s leader stated that his organization had been rejected by the registrar of companies as undesirable stating they cannot legitimize illegality. 

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