Uganda: New law could make almost every gay person homeless

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A new, harsher version of Uganda’s anti-gay law could effectively make all gay and lesbian people homeless.

Despite not appearing on the agenda for the next Ruling Party Caucus on 13 December, politicians in Uganda have promised the bill will be introduced by Christmas.

The new bill includes language which potentially criminalises any landlord or owner or renter of a property where an “unnatural act [gay sex]” takes place.

It criminalises anyone who “leases or subleases, uses or allows to be used any premises for the purpose of engaging in unnatural sexual practices.”

Jonathan Cooper, director of the Human Dignity Trust, said: “Under this Bill, if a landlord rents accommodation to a gay man or lesbian knowing that they may engage in intimacy in their home, that landlord will face the prospect of a seven year prison sentence. Why would that landlord take the risk? Gay men and lesbians already renting accommodation risk being evicted. If this Bill becomes law, the tyranny against the LGBTI community in Uganda continues. This wanton persecution must stop.”

Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan LGBT rights activist added: “When the Government turns on us in this way, the first problem is always housing. We get evicted, landlords won’t rent to us and many gay and lesbian people are made homeless. The next problem is employment rights. We have none. On top of that many people are rejected by their families. Members of the LGBTI community end up in a spiral of poverty and despair. And if that isn’t bad enough, violence against us becomes routine and normal. Instead of protecting all Ugandan citizens, we are targeted by the state and exposed to all sorts of inhumanity.”

The country’s previous Anti-Homosexuality Act was struck down by a court – but lawmakers are drafting an even harsher ‘Prohibition of the Promotion of Unnatural Sexual Practices Bill’ to replace it.

A report by Sexual Minorities Uganda, stated that 40% of reported cases of arrest or charge under the now defunct Act, resulted in the accused being evicted from their home.

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