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Uganda passes strict anti-gay bill that imposes death penalty for some

The bill will now go to the president , who has in the past accused gay people of undermining the stability of Uganda and in recent weeks called them deviants
Last Updated : 22 March 2023, 17:01 IST
Last Updated : 22 March 2023, 17:01 IST

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Lawmakers in Uganda have passed a sweeping anti-gay law that can bring punishments as severe as the death penalty — the culmination of a long-running campaign to criminalize homosexuality and target LGBTQ people in the conservative nation in East Africa.

The law, which was passed late Tuesday night after more than seven hours of discussion and amendments, calls for a life sentence for anyone engaging in gay sex. Even attempting to have same-sex relations would be met with a seven-year prison term.

The death penalty would be applied to people convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” a sweeping term defined in the law as homosexual acts committed by anyone infected with HIV or involving children, disabled people or anyone drugged against their will.

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The parliamentary vote in Uganda caps a struggle over gay rights in Uganda that has drawn international attention for nearly 15 years. It comes as anti-gay policies and discrimination have been on the rise in several African nations, including Kenya, Ghana and Zambia.

The legislation in Uganda, called the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, also imposes a penalty of about $264,000 on any entity convicted of promoting homosexuality. People younger than 18 who are convicted of engaging in homosexuality face up to three years in prison, along with a period of “rehabilitation.”

“This house will continue to pass laws that recognize, protect and safeguard the sovereignty, morals and cultures of this country,” said Anita Annet Among, speaker of the Ugandan Parliament.

The bill will now go to President Yoweri Museveni, who has in the past accused gay people of undermining the stability of Uganda and in recent weeks called them “deviants.”

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the Ugandan government “to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation,” saying that it would undermine the rights of Ugandans and “could reverse gains” in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Volker Türk, the United Nations human rights chief, called the anti-gay law “probably among the worst of its kind in the world” and said that it could “serve to incite people against each other.”

The bill was introduced in early March by lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa, who has said that homosexuality threatens family values and the safety of Ugandan children.

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Published 22 March 2023, 17:01 IST

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