Uganda’s Parliament has passed a law to impose the death penalty for homosexuality in some cases.
The original proposal included prison sentences for identifying as LGBTQ+ or ‘promoting’ same-sex attraction in any way. These components remain, but a late change to the bill also added the death penalty for “serial offenders” and for those who break the laws and have incurable and infectious illnesses.
The final bill as passed by Parliament has not been published, but an early draft states it is intended to address “sexual promiscuity” and “protect the traditional family”.
It lists prison penalties of up to 10 years for a wide range of homosexual acts and also for anyone who “holds out” as LGBTQ+.
It also includes lesser penalties for anyone who provides premises to LGBTQ+ people, or supports or promotes them in any way.
An amendment to the bill included the death penalty for a category described as “aggravated homosexuality”.
It applies to “serial offenders”, those who commit a sex crime and have an incurable and infectious illness, and those who have sex with someone under the age of 18.
The bill passed Uganda’s Parliament to cheering and applause, with 387 out of 389 votes, but with many representatives absent. It must now be approved by the President to become law. The President, Yoweri Museveni, has not confirmed his view but has generally exhibited anti-LGBTQ+ views.
The Government’s language towards the LGBTQ+ community has become increasingly hostile in recent months and there has been a recent spate of arrests and a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ violence.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk has condemned the bill, describing it as “probably among the worst of its kind in the world”.
“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…
“Not only does it conflict with Uganda’s own constitutional provisions stipulating equality and non-discrimination for all – it also runs counter to the country’s international legal obligations on human rights… and actively puts people’s rights, health and safety at grave risk.”