In an interview with Thomson Reuters today the Ethics and Integrity Minister of Uganda, Simon Lokodo, has announced plans to introduce to parliament a bill imposing the death penalty for same-sex relations and “promotion and recruitment” of homosexuality in order to curb a rise in “unnatural sex”. Local activists confirm that it is to be tabled on October 28, 2019.
The so-called “Anti-Homosexuality Act” was first passed by the parliament of Uganda in 2013 and signed into law by President Museveni in early 2014. It was invalidated by the Constitutional Court of Uganda on procedural grounds the same year. According to Thomson Reuters, the government now plans to resurrect the act in the coming weeks with a death penalty foreseen not only for same-sex relations, but also for “promotion and recruitment” of homosexuality.
Kasha Jacquelin, founder of the Uganda LGBT Community, comments:
The timing of the resurrection of the bill is callous - LGBTIQ people are being used as a scapegoat as elections approach. Violence against us has escalated in recent months, countless community members have fled, and I fear it will only get worse. We urgently need support from the international community if we are to stand up against the witch hunt being launched against us.
Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, comments:
Same-sex relations are already criminalized in Uganda, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Efforts to impose a death penalty constitute legal overkill, and only serve to increase hate and stigma against LGBTIQ people, putting them at risk not only of government persecution but also vigilante violence. More concerning still are Minister Lokodo’s remarks that “promotion” of LGBTIQ issues should also be criminalized to the same extent. This is an extremely dangerous addition to the resurfacing anti-homosexuality bill, which would, in essence, put activists in grave danger not only for being LGBTIQ, but also for engaging in any community support, awareness raising or service provision activities.
Same-sex relations are have been criminalized in Uganda since British colonial times. Articles on “unnatural offenses” and “indecent practices” have been retained in the Penal Code since independence. “Carnal knowledge against the order of nature” between men carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.