Uganda to introduce long jail terms for homosexual activities

Ugandan Parliament

The Ugandan Parliament has passed legislation introducing stricter penalties such as long jail terms for people engaged in same-sex activities.

Penalties under the new legislation include a 10-year-jail term for anyone who engages in same-sex relationships or identifies as LGBTQ.

Proposed by Asuman Basalirwa MP and overwhelmingly supported in Parliament, the bill seeks to criminalise homosexuality as well as its promotion and financing.

It promises to prohibit same-sex sexual relations, strengthen “Uganda’s capacity to deal with domestic and foreign threats to the heterosexual family, safeguard traditional and cultural values and protect youth/children against gay and lesbian practice.”

Under the bill, which must be approved by President Museveni, offences of homosexuality and “attempted or aggravated homosexuality” carry a maximum 10-year jail term.

Those promoting homosexuality will be fined $26,500, whether through the printing of materials, funding, hosting or “complicity.”

Persons who run brothels for homosexuals risk seven years’ imprisonment while landlords who rent property to homosexuals face a year in jail.

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There will be five-year imprisonment for anyone convicted of “attempted or actual procurement of homosexuality.” while anyone found guilty of “conducting/contracting same-sex marriage” risks 10 years imprisonment.

The proposed law also gives courts wide powers to order protection for children deemed “likely to engage in homosexuality,” and to determine the amount of compensation due to “a victim of homosexuality by an offender.”

Mr Basalirwa argued that the Bill is necessary to cure inadequacies in the Penal Code Act that provides for “unnatural sex,” but “lacks provisions on procurement, promoting, disseminating literature and other pantographic materials concerning the offences of homosexuality.”

“As a result, there is a need for a legislation to enhance offences relating to homosexuality and clear provisions for charging, investigating, prosecuting, convicting and sentencing of offenders,” he said.

National Resistance Movement party MP Fox Odoi has led charges against passing the legislation.

He said: “It contains provisions that are unconstitutional, reverses the gains registered in the fight against gender-based violence and criminalises individuals instead of conduct that contravenes legal provisions,” he said.

Amnesty International has called the bill “appalling”, “ambiguous” and “vaguely worded.”

“This deeply repressive legislation will institutionalise discrimination, hatred, and prejudice against LGBTI people – including those who are perceived to be LGBTI – and block the legitimate work of civil society, public health professionals, and community leaders,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa.

The bill has also been condemned by both the UK’s Africa Minister Andrew Mitchell and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The White House has warned Uganda of possible economic repercussions if the new law comes into force.

Uganda is a majority Christian nation with a large Muslim minority, and is among 77 countries that criminalise gay and lesbian practices, according to the United Nations.

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