New York, New York - March 23, 2023 - Outright International is deeply troubled by the passage of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill by the country's parliament. The new legislation, which now goes to President Yoweri Museveni, would further entrench the state-sanctioned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people in the East African nation. It also seeks to build on the original 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was invalidated by the Constitutional Court of Uganda on procedural grounds. Same-sex relations have already been criminalized in Uganda since British colonial times. Sections 145 on “unnatural offenses” and 148 on “indecent practices” have been retained in the Penal Code since the country's independence.
If signed into law, members of the LGBTQ community will face losing their jobs, being evicted from their homes, and losing access to affirming healthcare services. It even criminalizes journalists, publishers, and human rights defenders who recognize LGBTQ people’s rights; landlords who rent premises to them; and development partners and donors who support their advocacy in pursuit of full equality. People convicted under this legislation will be placed on record as sex offenders which they’d have to disclose. Under this law, the death penalty has been reserved for so-called “aggravated” homosexuality, including for “serial offenders” who are convicted repeatedly for consensual same-sex acts.
“This bill is an undisguised assault on the fundamental human rights of LGBTQ people, their friends, family members, and other allies. It even criminalizes journalists, publishers, and human rights defenders who recognize LGBTQ people’s rights, landlords who rent premises to them, and development partners and donors who support their advocacy in pursuit of full equality,” noted Neela Ghoshal, Outright International's Senior Director of Law and Policy.
The passage of the bill follows the government’s closure of the human rights organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) in August 2022, and the refusal to register several other organizations that work to advance LGBTQ people’s human rights. The Ugandan government also threatened in February 2023 to close the UN Human Rights office in the country, seeking to silence the voices of allies.
The build-up to the passing of this bill was infused with homophobic rhetoric, which further makes LGBTQ people vulnerable to violence, exclusion, and isolation. Outright International calls on President Museveni to immediately veto this bill. We pledge our support to Ugandan activists who sacrifice their safety and security to defend human rights.