Uganda to jail people who identify as LGBTQ in one of world’s most anti-gay laws : NPR
LAGOS, Nigeria – The Ugandan Parliament has passed some of the most sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation in the world. Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda, but on Tuesday night lawmakers voted to ban identifying as LGBTQ+, or so-called promoting gay identities.
In a packed room, lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the so-called anti-homosexuality bill, with only two out of nearly 400 representatives voting against.
“Congratulations,” said Speaker Anita Among. “Whatever we are doing, we are doing it for the people of Uganda.”
Same-sex acts were already criminalized in Uganda under British colonial law, but the new law goes much further than that. So-called serious homosexuality, including sex with someone with HIV, can carry the death penalty. The law would also penalize anyone who identifies as gay or lesbian and who is likely to be perceived as promoting or advocating an LGBTQ identity.
The law has a strong attraction criticism from activists and civil rights organizations in the country.
Ugandan LGBTQ activist Richard Lusimbo told NPR “the LGBTQI community has basically been told you can’t hold your head up, you can’t be seen, you can’t be heard.”
But for Lusimbo, like many, the law is the result of pressure both at home and abroad. “From the very beginning, this whole bill was brought into Uganda, for example because American Protestants were going to Uganda. And what is happening in Uganda is not just isolation.”
Homosexuality is illegal in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries.
International condemnation was swift.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that the bill “would undermine the basic human rights of all Ugandans.” He added, “We urge the Government of Uganda to strongly review the implementation of this law.”
White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby says Washington is “closely monitoring this fact” and has not ruled out possible economic “consequences” if the law is implemented.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called it a “deeply disturbing development.”
“If signed into law by the president, it would make Ugandan lesbians, gays and bisexuals criminals just because they exist, because of who they are,” he said. “It can provide full authority for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and used to incite people against each other.”
Uganda passed an anti-gay law earlier in 2014 but the courts rejected the law for procedural reasons, following outrage in Uganda and from international donors.
Human Rights Watch called the new law a “more serious version.”
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has voiced support for the legislation, is expected to sign it into law.