Uganda enacts harsh anti-LGBTQ law including death penalty - Reuters

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 78-year-old [president] has called homosexuality a “deviation from normal” and urged lawmakers to resist “imperialist” pressure.

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.

In a joint statement, the U.S.’s flagship HIV/AIDS programme PEPFAR, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said the law put Uganda‚Äôs anti-HIV fight “in grave jeopardy”.

The U.N. human rights body declared itself “appalled”.

Uganda’s move could encourage lawmakers in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania seeking similar measures.

The inclusion of the death penalty for offences like transmitting HIV has drawn particular outrage internationally.

Existing Ugandan law calls for a maximum 10-year sentence for intentionally transmitting HIV and does not apply when the person who contracted the infection was aware of their sexual partner’s HIV status.

By contrast, the new law makes no distinction between intentional and unintentional transmission and contains no exception based on awareness of HIV status.

The amended version of the bill, adopted earlier this month after Museveni returned it to parliament, stipulated that merely identifying as LGBTQ is not a crime and revised a measure that obliged people to report homosexual activity to only require reporting when a child is involved.

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Locations: Uganda 

Organizations: President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) United Nations 

People: Yoweri Museveni 

Tags: LGBTQ+ HIV Public Health Political Violence Death Penalty 

Type: Headlines