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News > Uganda

Uganda and Its Campaign to Normalize Homophobia

  • LGBTIQ+ people in Uganda. Jul. 10, 2023.

    LGBTIQ+ people in Uganda. Jul. 10, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@wunpini_fm

Published 12 July 2023

Promoting the rights of LGTBIQ+ groups or any other type of activism in favor of them can be punished with 20 years in prison.

In Uganda, you can simply be arrested for being gay or lesbian. Since May, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, despite widespread condemnation from many Western governments and human rights activists. Since that time, sexual relations between people of the same sex have been punishable by jail or life imprisonment.


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This violative practice has been legal in the country, but the new law imposes harsher penalties for LGBTIQ people. Uganda is the country that launches the most repression against LGBTIQ+ even above countries like Saudi Arabia, which has greater visibility in the violation of the human rights of these groups.

More alarming are the death sentences for what has come to be called "aggravated homosexuality". Aggravated homosexuality is when a homosexual infects another person with HIV, especially when minors or disabled people are involved.

Promoting the rights of LGTBIQ+ groups or any other type of activism in favor of them can be punished with 20 years in prison. The main consequence of these measures is constitutional. It violates the right to privacy, the right not to be discriminated against or denigrated, legalizes cruelty, and profoundly limits all kinds of individual freedom.

The most paradoxical thing about the case is that the Ugandan government is a signatory to regional and international treaties on human rights, like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

A few months ago, the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Francis Ecweru, stated that "Homosexuality is a threat to the human race, and what we are discussing is the preservation of the human race..." He added, “I have gone to some hospitals, and I have seen children with a torn anus. The doctors told me that they were raped by homosexuals.”

Despite this bleak outlook, within Ugandan institutions, there are voices that have spoken out against these repressive measures. This is the case of the deputy of the ruling party, Fox Odoi-Oywelowo. He spoke out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 in Parliament, describing it as a breach of human rights.

"The bill contains provisions that are unconstitutional, reverses the achievements recorded in the fight against gender violence, and criminalizes people," he said. 

The case of Uganda, as we said before, stands out for its level of cruelty, repression, and impunity. However, worldwide, the institutionalization of homophobia has been increasing in recent years. It has been a rebound at a time when the greatest achievements were made in the defense of the rights of homosexual people and a certain consensus was generated in international public opinion.

Homosexuality is currently illegal and constitutes a criminal violation in more than 60 countries. In Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Iran, Nigeria, and Bahrein there is the death penalty for people who perform sexual acts, even if they are consensual between adults. It is also prohibited legally in countries that all follow Islamic law, like Qatar, Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates.

International organizations have developed a set of initiatives to dialogue with and pressure the Ugandan government to dismantle this set of violative measures. There were very hard efforts to end this legal and harsh situation from the sides of the UN, Amnesty International, and the European Union.

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