Ugandan lawmakers have approved a law which imposes a punishment of up to 10 years in prison for identifying as LGBTQ+, among other things.
The new legislation constitutes a further crackdown on LGBTQ+ people in a country where same-sex relations are already illegal. It targets an array of activities, including banning promoting and abetting homosexuality as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality, Reuters reported.
Opposition lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa introduced the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2023 to parliament, saying that the bill aims to “protect our church culture; the legal, religious and traditional family values of Ugandans from the acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country.”
“The objective of the bill was to establish a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect traditional family values, our diverse culture, our faiths, by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex and the promotion or recognition of sexual relations between persons of the same sex,” said Basalirwa on Tuesday.
Lawmaker Fox Odoi-Oywelowo spoke out against the bill, saying that it “contravenes established international and regional human rights standards” as it “unfairly limits the fundamental rights of LGBTQ+ persons.”
Rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch warned earlier this month that the law would violate Ugandans’ rights to freedom of expression and association privacy, equality, and nondiscrimination.
“One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalizes 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,” said Oryem Nyeko, Uganda researcher at Human Rights Watch in a statement, calling on politicians in the country to “stop targeting LGBT people for political capital.”
The bill is expected to eventually go to Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, for assent. Museveni last week derided homosexuals as “deviants.”
Anti-LGBTQ sentiment is deeply entrenched in the highly conservative and religious east African nation.
Uganda made headlines in 2009 when it introduced an anti-homosexuality bill that included a death sentence for gay sex.
The country’s lawmakers passed a bill in 2014, but they replaced the death penalty clause with a proposal for life in prison. That law was ultimately struck down.