Uganda’s parliament passed an anti-LGBTQ+ bill that criminalizes homosexuality, with penalties that include death or life in prison.
Per NBC News, the bill outlaws citizens from even identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer. It also forbids same-sex intercourse, and any material that promotes or abets homosexuality is banned. Violations of the laws, which include conspiracy to engage in homosexuality as well, could result in the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and life in prison for same-sex intercourse. The legislation is set to be sent to President Yoweri Museveni, who will sign it into law.
"The passing of this discriminatory bill—probably among the worst of its kind in the world—is a deeply troubling development," said United Nations high commissioner for human rights Volker Turk, per CBS News. The bill will make it so any suspect convicted of “attempted homosexuality” could face up to ten years behind bars, while those convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” could go to prison for 14. "If signed into law by the president, it will render lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are," added Turk. "It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other."
Prominent Ugandan LGBTQ+ activist Frank Mugisha has harshly criticized the legislation in a statement. “This law is very extreme and draconian," he said. "It criminalizes being an LGBTQ person, but also they are trying to erase the entire existence of any LGBTQ Ugandan.” Museveni has not publicly commented on the bill, but he has previously voiced his stance against LGBTQ+ rights. He previously accused Western nations, which he did not name, of “trying to impose their practices on other people.”
White House press secretary Karien Jean-Pierre said the United States has “grave concerns” regarding the bill, which she said could “damage” the reputation of the country. “No one should be attacked, imprisoned, or killed simply because of who they are, or who they love," Jean-Pierre added. The Human Rights Watch organization also condemned the bill, and described it as “infringing on the rights to privacy, and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda.”
As it stands, homosexuality is criminalized in at least 30 countries in Africa. A 2021 report on human rights practices in Uganda by the U.S. Department of Justice found that mob violence against LGBTQ+ citizens is prevalent throughout the country.