Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed one of the world’s toughest anti-LGBTQ laws, including the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, drawing Western condemnation and risking sanctions from aid donors.
Same-sex relations were already illegal in Uganda, as in more than 30 African countries, but the new law goes further.
It stipulates capital punishment for “serial offenders” against the law and transmission of a terminal illness like HIV/AIDS through gay sex. It also decrees a 20-year sentence for “promoting” homosexuality.
“The Ugandan president has today legalised state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia,” said Clare Byarugaba, a Ugandan rights activist.
United States President Joe Biden called the move “a tragic violation” of human rights and said Washington would evaluate the implications of the law “on all aspects of U.S. engagement with Uganda.”
“We are considering additional steps, including the application of sanctions and restriction of entry into the United States against anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption,” he said.
A local organisation, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, and 10 other individuals later filed a complaint against the law at the constitutional court, one of the petitioners, Busingye Kabumba, told Reuters.
Museveni had sent the original bill passed in March back, asking parliament to tone down some provisions. But his ultimate approval was not seen as in doubt in a conservative country where anti-LGBTQ attitudes have hardened in recent years, in part due to campaigning by Western evangelical church groups.
Uganda receives billions of dollars in foreign aid each year and could now face adverse measures from donors and investors, as happened with a similar bill nine years ago.