Uganda: Bill passed imposing jail term, death penalty for homosexuality
Uganda's parliament on Tuesday passed legislation criminalizing those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ). Those convicted under the law face imprisonment or death, and friends, family, and community members are liable to report such individuals to authorities. The bill now sits with President Yoweri Museveni, who can either strike it down or sign it into law.
Why does this story matter?
- If the president passes it, Uganda will join 30 other African countries that have criminalized homosexuality. Outlawing the assertion of one's identity as a sexual minority comes as a setback to years of progress.
- This would reduce the quality of life and increase the likelihood of violence against LGBTQ community.
- An earlier version of the bill was enacted in 2014 but was overturned.
387 of 389 MPs voted in favor of bill
Only two out of the total 389 MPs—Fox Odoi-Oywelowo and Paul Kwizera Bucyana, who are also from the ruling party—opposed the bill. Last month, President Museveni said that the West was trying to force other countries to normalize homosexuality, which Uganda will not accept. He called for a medical opinion on whether homosexuals were "deviations from the normal" or natural.
President Museveni termed homosexuality as 'deviation'
Addressing parliament last week, Museveni said, "The western countries should stop wasting the time of humanity by trying to impose their practices on other people." The passing of the bill is likely to hurt Uganda's relations with Western donors, as per the BBC.
Pro-LGBTQ individuals, groups to be penalized
Reportedly, the bill was first tabled earlier this month and was met with widespread support. The bill states that those convicted of grooming and trafficking children with the intent of pushing them into homosexual activities will face life imprisonment. Individuals or organizations supporting or financing groups pushing for LGBTQ rights will also get life sentences, along with those publishing or distributing pro-LGBTQ material.
People came forward as 'ex-gay,' attacked pro-LGBTQ groups
Anti-LGBTQ propaganda grew stronger in Uganda from last year
Reportedly, anti-LGBTQ propaganda has been sweeping Uganda since last year. In January, a parliamentary investigation into the alleged "promotion" of homosexuality in schools was launched. Last year, a man named Elisha Mukisa (26), who was imprisoned earlier on defilement charges, alleged that Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)—a pro-LGBTQ non-governmental group based in Kampala—persuaded him into acting in gay porn while he was a minor.
Reports link rise of anti-LGBTQ propaganda to US evangelists
Surprisingly, a Foreign Policy report suggested links between the rekindled discourse against the LGBTQ community and Christian evangelists from the United States of America. Uganda is a Christian-majority country, and historically the church has been the face of the anti-LGBTQ movement. It said the present-day anti-gay propaganda and developments have their roots in European colonialism when sodomy was punishable by death.
The East African nation passed similar anti-LGBTQ law in 2014
Prior to Tuesday's draft legislation, the country in Africa had also enacted a harsh Anti-Homosexuality Act way back in 2014 after introducing it in 2009. However, it was later overturned by a panel of judges amid international condemnation. In its original form, the bill called for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts.