Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023

The Ugandan parliament has recently passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023, which proposes stringent penalties for anyone engaging in sex with a person of the same gender. The punishments range from imprisonment to capital punishment, and even entities like media groups, journalists, and publishers can be convicted of promoting homosexuality. The Bill has been met with widespread condemnation and calls for its veto.

Penalties and Definitions in the Bill

Under the new Bill, anyone who “tries” to have same-sex relations will face seven years of imprisonment. Even touching another person with the intention of committing homosexual acts is prohibited. People found guilty of the “offense of homosexuality” can face up to ten years of imprisonment. The crime of “aggravated homosexuality” is defined as homosexual acts committed by an HIV-infected person, involving children or disabled persons, or against anyone in an inebriated state who is incapable of giving informed consent. “Aggravated homosexuality” is punishable with the death penalty.

The Bill also punishes minors convicted of engaging in same-sex acts with up to three years’ imprisonment and a period of “rehabilitation”. Besides this, it punishes individuals convicted of trafficking children or grooming them to engage in same-sex acts with life imprisonment.

Entities like media groups, journalists, and publishers can be convicted of promoting homosexuality, and they will have to face up to five years imprisonment and/ or pay a fine of up to 1 billion Ugandan shillings. The Bill outlaws providing accommodation that facilitates the “offense of homosexuality.” Therefore, even a property owner whose premises are used as a “brothel for homosexual acts” or any other LGBTQ rights activities can face the risk of getting arrested. If anyone conducts or officiates a same-sex marriage ceremony, they can be imprisoned for ten years.

Objective and Status of the Bill

The Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament, Anita Annet Among, has stated that the House will continue passing laws to “recognise, protect and safeguard” the morals and culture of their country. The Bill’s objective is to establish comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect traditional family values, diverse culture, and faiths by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between people of the same sex & promoting it.

The Bill has now been sent to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who has a history of anti-gay remarks. He can either use his veto power over the law or sign it into law within 30 days. While the Bill hasn’t officially been published, a majority of its elements were discussed in Parliament.

Reactions to the Bill

The Bill has faced severe criticism and condemnation from various quarters. Amnesty International has called the law “appalling,” “ambiguous” and “vaguely worded” and urged President Museveni to urgently veto it. UK Africa Minister Andrew Mitchell and the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have also condemned the Bill. The White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has warned Uganda of possible sanctions, restricting lawmakers responsible for passing the anti-LGBTQ Bill from doing business with the US.

The bill’s mandatory reporting provision has also been criticized as it makes it illegal to identify as LGBTQ. This provision requires friends, family, and community members of those engaging in same-sex relationships to report them to the authorities. This mandatory reporting provision calls for a fine or six months imprisonment.

Previous Anti-Homosexuality Bill

This Bill is a “revised and more egregious version of the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act” that Uganda tried to introduce in 2014. The 2014 Act reinforced existing prison sentences under the Penal Code for same-sex conduct and outlawed the “promotion of homosexuality.”





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