Uganda passes cruel Anti-Homosexuality Bill for second time

Uganda president Yoweri Museveni

Uganda’s parliament has passed one of the world’s strictest – and most cruel – anti-LGBTQ+ bills for the second time, after requests were made for changes.

The country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill was originally passed by the parliament on 21 March and made simply identifying as LGBTQ+ a criminal offence.

However, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni didn’t sign it into law – instead sending it back to parliament with recommendations for alterations.

One of the key changes made is that it no longer criminalises people for identifying as LGBTQ+, the Associated Press (AP) reported. President Museveni recommended that this section be removed, as it could create “constitutional challenges”.

Nevertheless, the newly-passed bill appears to largely retain its original form.

When the bill was sent back to parliament on 20 April, Uganda’s deputy attorney general, Jackson Kafuuzi, reportedly advised the East African nation’s parliament to remove the mandatory death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”.

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However, it still includes a death sentence for “aggravated homosexuality”, which applies to certain same-sex acts, like sexual relations involving people living with HIV, as well as serious criminal offences such as rape and sexual abuse of children.

The bill also retains measures around jailing people for advocating or promoting LGBTQ+ rights.

After being passed by lawmakers for a second time, the bill will now return to Museveni to sign into law or veto.

‘Devastating and deeply disturbing’

Uganda has been condemned internationally ever since the bill was initially considered, while Ugandan politicians have spoken about rejecting intimidation from Western powers.

However, the pressure for Museveni to veto the legislation has not dropped.

United Nations experts have called the bill “an egregious violation of human rights”, and the US has warned of economic consequences if the bill is signed into law, AP reported.

After Uganda’s parliament passed the bill in its original form in March, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, condemned the move as “devastating and deeply disturbing”.

Türk said the bill, if enacted, will have “serious negative repercussions on society as a whole, and erode gains made over years“ and could open the door for the “systemic violation” of the human rights of “nearly all LGBTQ+ people”.

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