UGANDA: Ugandan MPs passed a divisive anti-LGBTQ+ bill that would make homosexual acts punishable by death, drawing vehement criticism from advocates for human rights.
All but two of the 389 legislators voted for the strict anti-homosexuality bill late Tuesday. The bill calls for the death penalty and life in prison for gay sex and “recruitment, promotion, and funding” of “same-sex “activities.
The bill put forward by the chairperson for legal and parliamentary affairs, Robina Rwakoojo, says that if someone is found guilty of aggravated homosexuality, they could be put to death.
The new legislation was opposed by just two lawmakers from the governing party, Paul Kwizera Bucyana and Fox Odoi-Oywelowo.
Odoi-Oywelowo said, “The bill is poorly thought out, has parts that are against the constitution, reverses the progress made in the fight against gender-based violence, and criminalises people instead of actions that break all known laws.”
According to him, “the bill doesn’t add any value to the existing legislative framework or the statute book.”
An earlier version of the bill was harshly criticised by people around the world, and Uganda’s constitutional court later ruled that it was not valid because of how it was made. The bill will now be sent to President Yoweri Museveni, who can either veto it or sign it into law. He seemed to back the bill in a recent speech.
One of the MPs there, John Musila, was wearing a dress that said, “Say No to Homosexuality, Lesbianism, and Gay.”
The law is the latest loss for LGBTQ+ rights in Africa, where homosexuality is illegal in most countries. In Uganda, a nation with a sizable, conservative Christian population, homosexual acts already carried a life sentence.
Human rights activists have criticized the new initiative to implement the strict law and called it “hate legislation.”
“Today marks a tragic day in Uganda’s history. @Parliament_Ug has passed legislation that promotes hatred and seeks to strip LGBTIQ individuals of their fundamental rights!” Sarah Kasande, a human rights advocate and attorney from Kampala, tweeted.
“Today’s events in parliament are not just immoral; they are a complete assault on humanity. It’s frightening that our MPs’ judgment is clouded by hate and homophobia. Who benefits from this draconian law?” tweeted Eric Ndawula, a gay activist.
In February alone, the advocacy organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (Smug) received reports from over 110 LGBTQ+ people in Uganda about incidents such as arrests, sexual assault, evictions, and public undressing. “Transgender people were disproportionately affected,” the group said.
Last month, President Museveni declared that Uganda would not accept homosexuality, alleging that the West was attempting to pressure other nations to “normalise” what he called “deviations.”
In a televised speech to the parliament on March 16, Museveni said, “The western countries should stop wasting the time of humanity by attempting to impose their practices on other people.”
Oryem Nyeko, a researcher with Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, said, “It’s disappointing that parliament would, once again, pass a bill that is clearly in contravention of several basic human rights.”
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