Parliament in Uganda has passed a bill which criminalizes the “promotion” of homosexuality and bans people from identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI).
The bill which was passed on Tuesday criminalizes same-sex intercourse, promoting and abetting homosexuality as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality.
Reuters reported that violations under the law draw steep penalties including death for so called aggravated homosexuality and life in prison for gay sex. Aggravated homosexuality involves gay sex with people under 18 years old or when the perpetrator is HIV positive, among other categories, according to the law.
“Our creator God is happy (about) what is happening… I support the bill to protect the future of our children,” said lawmaker David Bahati during debate on the bill.
“This is about the sovereignty of our nation, nobody should blackmail us, nobody should intimidate us.”
Rights group Amnesty International has since urged President Yoweri Museveni to urgently reject legislation, saying it amounts to a grave assault on LGBTI people and is contemptuous of the Ugandan constitution.
“This ambiguous, vaguely worded law even criminalizes those who ‘promote’ homosexuality or ‘attempt to commit the offence of homosexuality’. In reality, this deeply repressive legislation will institutionalize discrimination, hatred, and prejudice against LGBTI people, including those who are perceived to be LGBTI and block the legitimate work of civil society, public health professionals, and community leaders.
“Instead of criminalizing LGBTI people, Uganda should protect them by enacting laws and policies that align with the principles of equality and non-discrimination enshrined not only in Uganda’s Constitution, but also the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.
Museveni has not commented on the bill, according to Reuters. In 2013, the Ugandan leader signed an anti-LGBTI law that Western countries condemned before a domestic court struck it down on procedural grounds.
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