- The struck-down 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act has been revived as the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
- Uganda seeks to punish those who identify as LGBT with up to 10 years imprisonment.
- Human Rights Watch has condemned this proposed law as a violation on fundamental human rights and freedoms.
In what has been largely condemned as a draconian legislative piece, Ugandan lawmakers resolved to pass a Bill that will, if approved, usher in a new anti-homosexuality law that will see people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) being sent to prison.
Uganda, mostly a conservative country where antiquated religious beliefs dictate the legislative trajectory on the flimsy premise of “morality”, already has anti-homosexuality legislation that bans same-sex relations with hefty and heavy-handed criminal penalties. And lawmakers are of the opinion that the current ban does not go enough.
Homophobia is deeply cemented in the social, economic, and political fabric of Uganda, and same-sex relations are punishable by up to life imprisonment.
The new law being contemplated by Uganda’s Parliament goes a tad further: it will punish those who merely identify as LGBT with imprisonment of up to 10 years — any person “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” faces up to 10 years in prison.
The Human Rights Watch has condemned the proposed law as a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and association privacy, equality, and nondiscrimination.
Oryem Nyeko, Uganda researcher at Human Rights Watch, commented, “One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalizes people simply for being who they are as well as further infringing on the rights to privacy, and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda.
“Ugandan politicians should focus on passing laws that protect vulnerable minorities and affirm fundamental rights and stop targeting LGBT people for political capital.”
The Bill has been condemned as draconian and Uganda’s unabated track record in grossly infringing the fundamental and inalienable human rights of marginalized groups.
While the lawmakers are seized with unilaterally assuming the irrational role of being the country’s moral police — with a purported and unwavering commitment towards the preservation of the ‘traditional heterosexual family’ and its ‘values’ — there is no commitment whatsoever insofar as addressing and solving the country’s foremost material conditions of poverty and inequality is concerned.
The country once passed a law criminalizing lesbian relations until it was struck down by another court on the grounds of procedural irregularity. The struck-down 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act has now resurfaced as the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the latter being labelled “a more egregious version” of the former.
Yoweri Museveni, the country’s long-serving strongman, is infamous for his anti-gay populist rhetoric. He has, on innumerable times, persecuted the LGBTQ community as unworthy of being equal humans.
More than 30 countries in Africa have legislation that criminalizes same-sex relations but if Uganda’s new bill is passed into law (which is the most likely outcome) the East African country will become the first to criminalize people for simply identifying as LGBTQ or for showing same-sex conduct.