Human rights campaigners condemn bill introducing capital and life imprisonment sentences.
MPs in Uganda have passed a controversial anti-LGBTQ+ bill, which would make homosexual acts punishable by death, attracting strong condemnation from rights campaigners. All but two of the 389 legislators voted late on Tuesday for the hardline anti-homosexuality bill, which introduces capital and life imprisonment sentences for gay sex and “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities”.
“A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality and is liable, on conviction to suffer death,” reads the bill presented by Robina Rwakoojo, the chairperson for legal and parliamentary affairs. Just two MPs from the ruling party, Fox Odoi-Oywelowo and Paul Kwizera Bucyana, opposed the new legislation.
“The bill is ill-conceived, it contains provisions that are unconstitutional, reverses the gains registered in the fight against gender-based violence and criminalises individuals instead of conduct that contravenes all known legal norms,” said Odoi-Oywelowo. “The bill doesn’t introduce any value addition to the statute book and available legislative framework,” he said.
An earlier version of the bill prompted widespread international criticism and was later nullified by Uganda’s constitutional court on procedural grounds. The bill will now go to President Yoweri Museveni, who can veto or sign it into law. In a recent speech he appeared to express support for the bill. One MP in the chamber, John Musila, wore a gown reading: “Say No To Homosexual, Lesbianism, Gay.”
President Museveni last month said Uganda will not embrace homosexuality, claiming that the west was seeking to compel other countries to “normalise” what he called “deviations”. “The western countries should stop wasting the time of humanity by trying to impose their practices on other people,” said Museveni in a televised address to parliament on 16 March.
“Homosexuals are deviations from the normal. Why? Is it by nature or by nurture? We need to answer those questions. We need a medical opinion on that,” he said. “It’s disappointing that parliament would, once again, pass a bill that is clearly in contravention of several basic human rights,” said Oryem Nyeko, a researcher in the Africa division at Human Rights Watch.
“This just opens the door for more regressive laws and for people’s rights to be violated across the board. President Museveni shouldn’t assent to it,” he said.