Draconian anti-homosexuality law passed in Uganda
Another legislative nail has been hammered in the coffin of the LGBT community in Uganda. The Ugandan parliament has passed a draconian law that could see LGBT Ugandans jailed for life if they are caught engaging in homosexual activities. The bill also requires “persons in authority, including persons exercising religious or social authority to report offences under the Act within twenty four hours or else face imprisonment for three years or a fine.”
Civil Rights Defenders is appalled by this bill and strongly condemns the on-going abuses against the LGBT community in Uganda. We call on the Ugandan authorities to immediately reverse the decision and provide full civil, human and political rights to all of its citizens.
Sexual Minority Uganda (SMUG), in a statement issued on the same day, condemns in the strongest terms the haphazard manner in which Members of Parliament passed the bill with little if any regard to procedure and to whether it complies with the 1995 Constitution as the Supreme law of Uganda. While homosexual activity was already deemed illegal in Uganda, the new law introduces harsher penalties, forbids and criminalizes the “promotion” of homosexuality, and makes it an illegal offence for failing to report homosexual activities to the police. While the law requires approval from President Yoweri Museveni many international LGBT organisations see this as a mere formality, SMUG calls upon the president not to sign the bill.
Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of SMUG said, “We shall fight this legislation to the end.” His organisations promised to pursue all possible lawful means to challenge the new intrusive law. Frnak told AFP after the bill was passed “I am officially illegal”. The LGBT community all over Uganda has echoed this sentiment.
The law that was first proposed in 2009 was subject to widespread international condemnation but was passed by the parliament on Friday the 20th December 2013. While the bill further reinforces the latent prejudice encountered by the LGBT community who live in what is said the most difficult country in the world to be gay, the private members bill had originally called for the death penalty in certain instances for homosexual acts. This was later reduced to life imprisonment.