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Uganda has introduced a brutal law against gay people which includes jail time against any people who identify as LGBT – and will even bring the death penalty in some cases. Supporters of the new law cite traditional values as a justification, in a country where being gay can already result in legal discrimination and mob violence.
Homosexual acts were already illegal in Uganda – but the new law introduces many new offences, and makes it a crime to merely identify as LGBT.
The death penalty is also being introduced for so-called “aggravated homosexuality”, which is defined as having sex with somebody under the age of 18 or with someone who is HIV positive, among other categories.
Another offence created by the Bill is that of “attempted homosexuality”, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Ugandans will also be banned from “promoting and abetting” homosexuality, which includes publishing, broadcasting, distribution of any content that advocates for gay rights.
Friends, family, and members of the local community will also have a responsibility to report anyone in same-sex couples. Property owners also face risk of being jailed if their premises are used as a “brothel” for homosexual acts or any other sexual minorities rights’ activities.
The terrifying law was introduced in a packed parliamentary chamber in Kampala, and met with a round of applause.
It was supported by nearly all 389 representatives present. The House speaker had earlier warned that it would be necessary to identify anyone who might oppose it.
The Bill was introduced last month by an opposition lawmaker who said his goal was to punish “promotion, recruitment and funding” related to LGBT activities.
Uganda is notorious for its utter intolerance towards homosexuality, which had initially been criminalised under colonial laws. Gay sex already carried a life sentence in the country.
The legislation now will go to President Yoweri Museveni, who can either veto the bill or sign it into law. He has recently indicated his own support of the bill with several anti-LGBT statements, and accused Western nations of “trying to impose their practices on other people”.
Amnesty International described the bill as “appalling”, as well as criticising it for being “vaguely worded”.
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Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa, said: “This deeply repressive legislation will institutionalise discrimination, hatred, and prejudice against LGBTI people – including those who are perceived to be LGBTI – and block the legitimate work of civil society, public health professionals, and community leaders.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the UK’s Africa Minister Andrew Mitchell have also condemned the legislation.
Human Rights Watch’s Oryem Nyeko also highlighted the further infringements on rights to privacy and freedom of expression within the bill in a statement earlier this month, saying: “One of the most extreme features of this new Bill is that it criminalises 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.”
Same-sex relations are banned in about 30 African countries, due to strongly-held conservative religious and social values.
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