Draconian details of Uganda’s misguided new anti-gay law

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni today signed into law the harsh, long-disputed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which provides for imprisonment for five to seven years for anyone convicted of “promoting homosexuality” or who  “in any way abets homosexuality and related practices.”

The official text of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (PDF) was only released after it was signed. It  provides for:

  • Life imprisonment for same-sex intimacy involving penetration — the same punishment currently provided under existing Ugandan law.
  • Life imprisonment for anyone who “touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
  • Forced medical examinations for anyone accused of being HIV-positive and of committing homosexual acts, which is termed “aggravated homosexuality,” also punishable by life imprisonment.
  • Seven years in prison for attempts at committing “the offense of homosexuality.”
  • Life imprisonment for HIV-positive people who attempt to commit “the offense of homosexuality.”
  • Seven years in prison for anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality.” LGBT rights activists fear that this provision and the next one will be used against them.
  • Life imprisonment for same-sex marriage. (The Ugandan constitution already prohibits same-sex marriage.)
  • Up to seven years in prison for conducting a same-sex wedding ceremony.
  • Imprisonment for seven years for the “director or proprietor or promoter” of a company or association that is convicted of “promoting homosexuality.” In addition, the organization’s certificate of registration would be canceled.
  • Jamaican LGBT activist Maurice Tomlinson marches in Ugandan pride parade on Aug. 4. (Photo by David Robinson)

    Jamaican LGBT activist Maurice Tomlinson marches in Ugandan pride parade in 2012. (Photo by David Robinson)

The law also provides for five to seven years in prison for:

  • Anyone who “attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices.”
  • Publishing “pornographic materials for purposes of promoting homosexuality.”
  • Anyone who “funds or sponsors homosexuality or other related activities.”
  • Anyone who “offers premises and other related fixed or movable assets for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality.” Landlords who rent to LGBT rights groups are liable to imprisonment too.
  • Anyone who “uses electronic devices which include internet, films, mobile phones for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality.”

Ugandan law already called for life imprisonment for homosexual activity, but that law had been rarely used.  The parliament’s adoption of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in December led to increased harassment and brief detentions of LGBT people in Uganda, and many fear that its enactment will of set the stage for widespread arrests. Human rights activists plan to challenge the constitutionality of the new law, so it might not take effect immediately.

Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014. (Click image for PDF version of the law.)

Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014. (Click image for PDF version of the law.)

Before Museveni signed the law, U.S. President Barack Obama said he was “deeply disappointed” with Museveni’s decision to do so. The new law “will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda,” Obama said.

Health workers fear that AID/HIV will flourish in Uganda, even more than its recent rebound there, because many LGBT people are again afraid to go to health clinics, because sexual minorities are treated as criminals.

Museveni’s speech as he signed the bill claimed not only that homosexuality is a choice, but even that there’s no dispute about the issue:

“No study has shown you can be homosexual by nature. That’s why I have agreed to sign the bill,” Museveni said.

He repeated the belief — widespread among homophobic Africans — that homosexuals are economically motivated, although, in fact, LGBT people in Uganda are at a great economic disadvantage because of social stigma.

Museveni said, “Homosexuals are actually mercenaries. They are heterosexual people but because of money they say they are homosexuals. These are prostitutes because of money.”

Pro-gay “mercenaries” recruit young people into gay activities to get money, he said.

“That is why those mercenaries must be punished and those recruiting them. I have failed to understand that you can fail to be attracted to all these beautiful women and be attracted to a man,” Museveni said.  “That is a really serious matter. There is something really wrong with you.”

He maintained an antagonistic attitude toward anyone in the West who believes that LGBT rights are an issue of human rights.

“Outsiders cannot dictate to us. This is our country. I advise friends from the West not to make this an issue, because if they make it an issue the more they will lose. If the West does not want to work with us because of homosexuals, then we have enough space to ourselves here,” he said.

Western donors provide about $2 billion a year in aid to Uganda.

The Canadian government is considering cutting diplomatic ties with Uganda over the law.

Jonathan Cooper, chief executive of Human-Dignity Trust (Photo courtesy of doughtystreet.co.uk)

Jonathan Cooper, chief executive of Human-Dignity Trust (Photo courtesy of doughtystreet.co.uk)

A group of LGBT rights supporters in the United Kingdom urged the withdrawal of the country’s high commissioner to Uganda to protest the new law. “This is a huge blow for anyone who values basic human rights,” said Jonathan Cooper, chief executive of the Human Dignity Trust, which is a member of the group pushing for strong response from the U.K. “This bleak situation will have an immediate effect on countries like the UK, the rest of the EU, Canada and US, as people flee and seek sanctuary,” said Jonathan Cooper, chief executive of the Human Dignity Trust.

LGBT rights advocate and blogger Melanie Nathan is raising money to support Ugandan asylum seekers. But only a few people could be helped in that way. If only one percent of Uganda’s population were homosexual, that would still be 350,00o people. The Rescue Fund to Help LGBT People Escape Africa has so far collected $3,333.

At Amnesty International, Michelle Kagari, deputy director for Africa, said:

“This deeply offensive piece of legislation is an affront to the human rights of all Ugandans. …

“This legislation will institutionalize hatred and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Uganda. Its passage into law signals a very grave episode in the nation’s history.”

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About Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart, a 40-year journalism veteran, is publisher and an editor of the "Erasing 76 Crimes" blog. More profile information on Google+. Colin Stewart, un vétéran du journalisme de 40 ans, est éditeur et rédacteur en chef du blog "Erasing 76 Crimes." Plus d'informations de profil sur Google+.
This entry was posted in Africa (Sub Saharan), Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, HIV / AIDS, International pressure for LGBT rights and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Draconian details of Uganda’s misguided new anti-gay law

  1. Pingback: Uganda: Anti-Homosexuality Bill undertegnet | Homonytt fra hele verden

  2. paulakey245562841 says:

    should be ‘self professing” – but he certainly processed the bill for self interest.

    Like

  3. tristanlives says:

    Reblogged this on Rock the Castro and commented:
    Very detailed blog on the latest developments in anti-gay legislation to be signed into law in Uganda. Good links to further reading, with links to the legislation document itself. Certainly pays witness to the foolish ideas from some Ugandan politicians – which are the foundations of homophobia or which result in homophobia? This last question is something to think on when we consider that education is how we combat such discrimination but how to educate against such beliefs?

    Like

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  12. Domingo A. Torres says:

    Look what your kind has done to the African countries with this evil of yours, disguise behind the clothe of Christ. They are persecuting innocent people, as if though there was not one among them without some grievous sin. You do not know what you are talking about. It is you who is in sin, period. Gays do not have to repent for what God made them to be you idiots. Its people like you playing the Christian game and the holier than thou status, that is making the world miserable with your stupidity. Study your Bible well “leaving the natural use of the woman” This is not referring to gay people you idiot. This is referring to heterosexual people. The word leaving means that they were in the natural use of woman at one time, (past tense). Gay people never had to leave the natural use of woman because they never had the use of woman in the first place, period. It is this kind stupidity that is causing all this confusion.
    God did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality. Nowhere in the Genesis does it say that. Look up the word to “know” in Concordance. It neither implies nor suggest that this means homosexuality. Look it up. This is what your preachers put into your mind. God destroyed Sodom, because its heterosexual families were wicked and evil with one another, even their children were evil like today. Leviticus 18:22, this was for the heterosexual people, also. There were no gay people then, there were just heterosexual families that were prohibited from performing the act of same sex with each other. Being gay is not all about sex, it’s a mental instinct just like being heterosexual is mental instinct. It maybe that our wires are cross, but that’s the way it is and we cannot be what we are not. You Christian fanatics are so bent on condemning others out of repentance, clean out your house first, and take out that prick that is blinding your eye. Tony aka DJ Sunday Towers, God’s DJ, Conscience Truth Be Told

    Like

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