Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed one of the most repressive and anti-LGBTQ laws in the world, in spite of widespread international condemnation and criticism from developed countries, including the US. The far-reaching bill prescribes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, as well as life imprisonment for same-sex sexual relationships.
The bill also penalizes sex education which is deemed to “promote homosexuality”, and requires that anyone knowledge of same-sex relationships reports “perpetrators” to the police. Those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” must also undergo “conversion therapy”. Human rights activists and LGBTQ advocates have warned that this law could lead to further persecution and violence against the LGBTQ community in Uganda.
Parliament Speaker Anita Annet Among celebrated the signing of bill, claiming it resounded with the people, and thanking Museveni for his “steadfast performance in the interest of Uganda”. Activists like Henry Mukiibi, however, have expressed grave concern over the implications of this law, warning that individuals may take the law into their own hands.
Leading Ugandan human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo has urged governments to hold the Ugandan government accountable and civil society groups are already looking to challenge the new law in court. Opiyo says the law is “deeply discriminatory and repressive” and does not align with international or local human rights standards.
Museveni’s decision to sign the law is a very concerning development which risks turning the clock back on the progress towards LGBTQ equality that has been made over the last decade in Uganda. The international community must hold the Ugandan government to account and continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community in the country.