UN urges Uganda to block ‘worst in the world’ anti-LQBTQ+ bill | Uganda
The United Nations has called on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to block an anti-LGBTQ+ bill that has tough penalties for some homosexual offenses, including death and life imprisonment.
Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that the adoption of this discriminatory bill – arguably one of the worst of its kind in the world – is a deeply disturbing development.
In the US, John Kirby, spokesman for the national security council, said that if the law is introduced, Washington will consider imposing economic sanctions against Uganda if the bill is signed.
He noted that this would be “a real shame” since most US aid is in the form of health assistance, particularly AIDS aid.
Uganda’s legislature passed the bill late on Tuesday in a protracted plenary session during which last-minute changes were made to the legislation that originally included penalties of up to 10 years in prison for homosexual offences.
In the version approved by lawmakers, the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” now carries the death penalty. Aggravated homosexuality applies in cases of sex relations involving those infected with HIV, as well as minors and other categories of vulnerable people.
According to the bill, a suspect found guilty of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” could be jailed for 14 years, and the crime of “attempted homosexuality” is punishable by up to 10 years.
The crime of “homosexuality” is punishable by life imprisonment, the same penalty prescribed in a colonial-era penal code that criminalized sex acts “against the order of nature.”
The bill was introduced in February by an opposition lawmaker who said it aimed to punish “promotion, recruitment and funding” related to LGBTQ+ activities in this East African country where homosexuals are widely despised.
The bill now goes to Museveni, who can veto it or sign it into law. In a recent speech, he suggested he supported the legislation and accused unnamed Western nations of “trying to impose their practices on other people.”
“If signed by the president, it will criminalize lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda simply for existing, for being who they are,” Turk, the UN rights chief, said in the statement. “It can offer carte blanche for the systematic violation of almost all their human rights and serve to incite people against each other.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday that the United States had “serious concerns” about the bill, adding that it would hinder tourism and economic investment and “damage Uganda’s reputation”.
Jean-Pierre added: “No one should be attacked, imprisoned or killed simply because of who they are, or who they love.”
Anti-gay sentiment in Uganda has grown in recent weeks amid alleged reports of sodomy in boarding schools, including a prestigious one for boys where a parent accused a teacher of abusing her son. Authorities are investigating this case.
The recent decision by the Church of England to bless civil marriages of same-sex couples has also inflamed many, including some who see homosexuality as imported.
Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries.