Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has assented to an anti-homosexuality law. The speaker of the country’s parliament made this announcement today, May 29, 2023.
This comes as defiance to international pressure appealing to the President not to sign the law. Same-sex relations were already illegal in Uganda, but the new law goes much further in targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. We spoke to Richard Lusimbo, an LGBTIQ+ activist in Uganda who calls for all to “pause and reflect on the profound gravity of this law.” Lusimbo: “Its impact extends far beyond legislation — it casts a shadow of imminent danger over the lives and well-being of the LGBTIQ+ community, robbing them of their freedom and dignity.”
“We stand united in our conviction that a just society thrives on respect for all individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Hivos remains in solidarity with the LGBTIQ+ community in Uganda and joins other human rights organizations in condemning the approval of this law. It is one of the harshest anti-LGBTIQ+ laws in the world.
The law includes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” which includes having sex while HIV positive and charges of incest. The law further criminalizes sex education for the LGBTIQ+ community and stipulates that citizens are under obligation to report what it refers to as “aggravated homosexuality” to the police. We see these kinds of provisions of the law as setting citizens against other citizens in an already homophobic society. We fear that some people will take the law into their own hands.
Undermining fundamental principles
In his reflection, Richard Lusimbo further shared: “We must not underestimate the significance of this moment, for it strikes at the very core of human rights and undermines the fundamental principles of compassion, acceptance, and equality. Today, we stand united in our conviction that a just society thrives on respect for all individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is our responsibility to challenge and rectify this assault on human rights, and together, build a world where every person can live with pride and without fear.”
Museveni had in April returned the then Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 to Parliament with recommendations for amendments. On May 2, the Ugandan Parliament made minimal amendments to the bill which had been passed by Parliament on March 21, 2023.