WRONG: Uganda moves slowly on anti-gay law

Logo of Uganda's Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law
Logo of Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law

CORRECTION: The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act was published (“gazetted”) on March 10, which is contrary to what this article reported  on March 22. The newly italicized portions of this article turned out to be incorrect. — Editor, April 2014]

Ugandan supporters of LGBT rights have clarified the status of the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act, [which has not yet taken effect]. It was passed by parliament in December and  signed by President Yoweri Museveni on Feb. 24.

An inter-ministerial committee has been set up to outline how the law will be implemented, says the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law. The committee, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has held its first meeting.

[Regulations on implementing the law will soon be drafted. The law will then be published, or “gazetted,” and at that point will be in effect.

However, the coalition notes, the law will not take effect if the country’s Constitutional Court first rules in favor of an injunction that the coalition is seeking.]

As written, the Anti-Homosexuality Act 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.

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.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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