Uganda to jail people who identify as LGBTQ in one of world's most anti-gay laws
Uganda's parliament has passed sweeping new anti-LGBTQ+ laws with tougher punishments, making some acts punishable by death.
Updated March 22, 2023 at 4:58 PM ET
LAGOS, Nigeria — Uganda's parliament has passed some of the most sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation in the world. Same-sex acts were already unlawful in Uganda, but on Tuesday night, lawmakers voted to ban identifying as LGBTQ, or the so-called promotion of gay identity.
In a packed chamber, lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the new anti-homosexuality bill, with only two of the nearly 400 representatives voting against it.
"Congratulations," said Speaker Anita Among. "Whatever we are doing, we are doing it for the people of Uganda."
Same-sex acts have been criminal in Uganda under British colonial-era laws, but this new legislation goes much further. It punishes anyone identifying as gay or queer, and potentially people or rights groups seen as promoting LGBTQ+ identity, and same-sex relations could be punishable with up to life imprisonment. Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 of Africa's 54 countries.
International condemnation has been swift.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that the bill "would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans." He added, "We urge the Ugandan Government to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation."
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Washington is "watching this real closely," and did not rule out possible economic "repercussions" if the legislation is implemented.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called it a "deeply troubling development."
"If signed into law by the president, it will render lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are," he said. "It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other."
Uganda passed a previous anti-homosexuality law in 2014 but the courts struck it down on procedural grounds, following outrage in Uganda and from international donors.
Human Rights Watch called the new legislation a "more egregious version."
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has spoken in support of the legislation, is expected to sign it into law.
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