Uganda passes horrifying bill making LGBTQ+ lives illegal and punishable with jail time

Uganda president Yoweri Museveni, pictured.

The Uganda government has approved an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would make it illegal to identify as LGBTQ+, and anyone found guilty of doing so could face up to 20 years in jail.

The new legislation was passed by lawmakers on Tuesday (21 March) and also seeks to impose punishment of up to five years in jail for being an LGBTQ+ ally. Friends, family and members of the community would have a duty to report individuals in same-sex relationships to the authorities.

Additionally, those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” – a term used in the legislation to refer to rape, child sexual abuse, or incest – could face the death penalty.

Homosexual acts are already illegal in the East African country, with legislation dating back to colonial times and enshrined in the Penal Code Act 1950.

Politicians on both sides of Uganda’s House voted in favour of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which now goes to the president, Yoweri Museveni, to be signed into law.

Opposition lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa, of the Justice Forum, said that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill aims to “protect our church culture – the legal, religious and traditional family values of Ugandans – from acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country”.

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He added that the bill aimed to “establish a comprehensive and enhanced legislation” that would attempt to protect the government’s view of “traditional family values”.

During the legislative hearing, MP Sarah Opendi also called for gay men to be castrated.

“Life imprisonment is not adequate because this person is going to go into the prison and continue living his life, maybe even continuing with homosexuality in the prison,” she said.

“These people should be castrated.

One of just two Uganda MPs to oppose the bill, Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, said that it “contravenes established international and regional human rights standards” because of its restrictions on LGBTQ+ rights.

Gay rights activist Eric Ndawula tweeted that the events in parliament are “not just immoral, but a complete assault on humanity”.

He added: “It’s frightening that our MPs’ judgment is clouded by hate and homophobia,” he said. “Who benefits from this law?”

Meanwhile, human rights campaigners described the bill as hate legislation, branding it barbaric and discriminatory.