Uganda, law against gays and lesbians: they risk life imprisonment and the death penalty

Uganda criminalizes homosexual people. That with the new law they will risk from ten years to life imprisonment, in some cases even the death penalty. A law that even before coming into force has sparked protests from the United Nations, the White House, the European Union: united in asking Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni not to sign the measure. In fact, only his signature is missing after only two members of the government party voted “no” out of 389 deputies in Parliament. In the conservative East African nation, homosexuality is already illegal, but the penalties could now be drastically escalated.

The reactions against the measure were timid

“The House recognizes, protects and safeguards the sovereignty of this country and the morals of this country,” the Among spokesperson said. The bill now awaits the signature of President Yoweri Museveni, who may however choose to veto or sign it. This law enjoys broad public support in Uganda, while critical reactions to the measure are very timid due to the authoritarianism of Museveni’s government which has eroded critical spaces in civil society. The AFP recalls that in recent months some unfounded conspiracy theories accusing dark international forces of promoting homosexuality in the country have had a strong echo on social media in Uganda. Last week, police announced they had arrested six men for “homosexual practices” in the southern city of Jinja. Six other men were arrested on the same charge on Sunday, according to police.

Concern of the EU and the White House

The European Union has expressed its deep concern about the approval of the law. “The EU is against the death penalty under any circumstances”, writes the External Action Service in a note. The EU recalls that according to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, “every individual has the duty to respect and consider his fellow human beings without discrimination, and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing respect and tolerance mutual”. And he points out that the criminalization of homosexuality is contrary to international law. The European Union will continue to engage with the Ugandan authorities and civil society to ensure that all individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity, are treated equally, with dignity and respect. Even the White House expresses “deep concern”, “It is one of the most extreme anti-LGBT laws in the world”, said spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre, hoping it would not be promulgated.