International human rights leaders condemned the Ugandan legislature’s passage of a bill imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality on Wednesday and urged President Yoweri Museveni to veto it.
“The passage of this discriminatory bill, probably one of the worst of its kind in the world, is a deeply troubling developmentUN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in a statement, calling the “draconian” bill “devastating and deeply disturbing.”
Human Rights Watch stated that the bill “would have violate multiple fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Uganda and the international human rights instruments to which Uganda is a party”.
Under the bill, same-sex relationships could reduce a 10-year prison sentence, with some activities punishable by life in prison or even death in the case of “aggravated homosexuality”: sex between people infected with HIV. as well as among members of other vulnerable groups.
“Aggravated attempted homosexuality” can carry a prison sentence of up to 14 years, and “attempted homosexuality” could carry 10 years. “Homosexuality” in general could have a life imprisonment.
While some laws against homosexual behavior are already in place, this legislation would make it illegal to even identify as homosexual and would require friends, family and members of the community to reporting same-sex relationships authorities, BBC News reported.
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Almost all of the 389 lawmakers who attended the massive parliamentary roll call vote on Tuesday night. supported the billwhich was similar to a bill passed in 2021 that further criminalized consensual same-sex relationships.
Human rights advocates said this one is worse than its predecessors.
“If the president passes it, it will turn lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda into criminals simply for existing, for being who they are,” Türk said. “He could give carte blanche for the systematic violation of almost all his human rights and serve to incite people among themselves.”
Amnesty International also condemned the legislation.
“President Yoweri Museveni must urgently veto this appalling legislationwhich was passed after a rushed vote on Tuesday night,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty’s regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa, adding that the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 “amounts to a serious attack on people LGBTI and despises the Ugandan constitution.”
Museveni appears to be in favor of the bill and has framed homosexuality as a corrupt import from the West. More than 30 of the 54 countries in Africa consider homosexuality a crime.
with cable news services