For many anti-LGBTQ conservatives within the African diaspora community and the Republican Party in the United States, Uganda’s recent legislation may serve as a source of inspiration and education. On March 21, Uganda passed a new bill that imposes even stricter restrictions on the LGBTQ+ community. Individuals caught engaging in same-sex relations can face penalties ranging from jail time to even the possibility of the death penalty.
The bill was passed late on Tuesday night in a chamber filled with parliamentary members. Shortly after the roll call was conducted by the House’s speaker, it was revealed that all 389 members were in support of the bill. The speaker had reminded the members that it was important to identify anyone who might be opposed to the bill.
This law, which has been passed in Uganda, is considered to be one of the harshest yet. Anybody identifying with the LGBTQ+ community could face up to 20 years of imprisonment or even the death penalty, a penalty reserved only for the most egregious offenders who have committed unforgivable acts.
This is one of many laws that have been pushed for approval. Across the globe, the LGBTQ+ community has been constantly targeted by various bills, such as the “Don’t say Gay” bill that was passed in Florida. This bill prevents teachers in grades K-3 from discussing Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with students in school. Although the bill claimed to encourage parents to discuss these topics with their children, its vague language raised concerns that such topics would be censored and avoided in all public schools, regardless of the grade level.
Opposition lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa presented the anti-gay bill to parliament in Uganda with the objective of creating legislation to protect “traditional” family values and diverse values by preventing any possibility of sexual relations between individuals of the same sex as well as prohibiting the promotion or recognition of such relations. Basalirwa stated, “It aims to protect our church culture, legal, religious, and traditional family values of Ugandans from acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country.”
“It aims to protect our church culture; the legal, religious and traditional family values of Ugandans from the acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country.” Basalirwa said.
However, Opposition Lawmaker Fox Odoi-Oywelowo and LGBTQ Advocate Frank Mugisha talked about how this law contravenes natural human rights and specifically will restrict right of LGBTQ+ people. Mugisha also talked about how this law could lead to mass arrests and even Mob Violence against the LGBTQ+ community, which could lead many people terrified of being outed.
“The last time the legislation was around, there were cases of suicide so, this time, this law is worse than the one that was here before because it has a death penalty and many people would be worried, many people would be scared,” he said
Mugisha also added that he and others will go to all of the courts in Uganda if necessary to try and get this law challenged and hopefully removed, they would even go as far as going to international court.
The International community is watching and reacting to the situation. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a tweet, expressed that the bill would compromise the fundamental human rights of all Ugandans. He further urged the Ugandan Government to reconsider the implementation of this legislation. 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,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in a statement. “It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other.”