Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Uganda Enacts Harsh Ban on Homosexuality

Last Friday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 (full text). The new law imposes the penalty of life imprisonment for anyone "who commits the offense of homosexuality." A person who commits the offense of "aggravated homosexuality" is liable for the death penalty. "Aggravated homosexuality" is defined, among other things, as homosexual relations with a child, a person with a disability, an elderly or unconscious person, a person who is mentally ill, or a homosexual act committed by the victim's parent or guardian, the offender is a serial offender, or the offense is committed by duress. Same-sex marriages are prohibited, as is promotion of homosexuality. Individuals have an obligation to report a reasonable suspicion that a person has or intends to engage in homosexual relations. A convicted person may be ordered to undergo "rehabilitation."

The Ugandan Parliament issued a press release announcing the President's signing of the Bill into law, with remarks by the bill's sponsor, Asuman Basalirwa. CNN reports on the passage of the law. On Monday, President Biden issued a Statement (full text) calling Uganda's new law "a tragic violation of universal human rights." U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also issued a Statement (full text) condemning Uganda's new law and saying in part:

[T]he Department of State will develop mechanisms to support the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals in Uganda and to promote accountability for Ugandan officials and other individuals responsible for, or complicit in, abusing their human rights.

Bloomberg News reports that a suit challenging the new law has already been filed in Uganda's Constitutional Court.