Uganda man faces death penalty over ‘aggravated homosexuality’ charge under anti-gay law

President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni

A Ugandan man has been charged with ‘aggravated homosexuality’ under the devastating anti-gay law enacted by President Yoweri Museveni.

The law, which has widely been considered the harshest anti-LGBTQ+ policy in the world, punishes anyone who engages in same-sex intercourse with life in prison. In cases considered to be ‘aggravated’, the death penalty can be applied.

Under the law, which was passed in May 2023, cases deemed ‘aggravated homosexuality’ can include having sex with a minor or vulnerable person, having sex while HIV positive, or engaging in incest.

The charges, seen by Reuters, did not specify what the defendant had done that deemed his actions ‘aggravated’, but simply stated that he had ‘performed unlawful sexual intercourse’ with a 41-year-old man.

President Yoweri Museveni signed the legislation into effect in May. Since then,  a number of arrests have been made.

However, a 20-year-old man has since become the first Ugandan to be charged with ‘aggravated homosexuality’.

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Protestors stand next to a uniformed officer, holding red signs that read "drop the anti-gay bill."
Uganda’s anti-gay law has seen a man charged with ‘aggravated homosexuality’. (Getty)

When asked for further detail, Jacqueline Okui, a spokesperson for the office of the director of public prosecutions, told the publication: “Since it is a capital offence triable by the High Court, the charge was read out and explained to him in the Magistrate’s Court… and he was remanded.” 

She added that she was not aware of anyone else who had yet been charged with ‘aggravated homosexuality’. No further details of the case were provided.

Although capital punishment was never officially abolished in Uganda, the country hasn’t carried out an execution since 2005.

Naturally, when the country’s parliament passed its Anti-Homosexuality Bill in May, there was widespread horror and devastation.

Shortly after the lethal law was passed, Uganda’s government was lambasted by human rights activists and organisations, world leaders, and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

More recently, the US imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan officials, President Joe Biden ordered a review of US aid to Uganda, and the World Bank officially suspended financing to Uganda as the law ‘fundamentally contradicts’ its values.

However, Uganda has shown no signs of revoking the homophobic bill.

Ugandan president Kaguta Yoweri Museveni, who is a staunch opposer of LGBTQ+ rights, has been in power since 1986.