By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK, 30 May 2023 (IDN) — In a move sure to invite condemnation and risking sanctions, Uganda has approved a new, stricter anti-LGBTQ law that includes the death penalty.
President Yoweri Museveni signed the world’s toughest anti-LGBTQ legislation, first proposed back in March but sent back to lawmakers allegedly to “tone down some provisions.”
His final approval of the bill, now containing the possibility of the death penalty was expected, in part due to campaigning by Western evangelical church groups.
Same-sex relations were already illegal in Uganda, as in more than 30 African countries, but the new law goes much further.
It stipulates capital punishment for “serial offenders” against the law and transmission of a terminal illness like HIV/AIDS through gay sex. It also decrees a 20-year sentence for “promoting” homosexuality.
“The Ugandan president has today legalized state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia,” said Clare Byarugaba, a Ugandan rights activist. “It’s a very dark and sad day for the LGBTIQ community, our allies and all of Uganda.”
She and other activists have vowed a legal challenge to the law, which Museveni was shown signing at his desk with a golden pen in a photo tweeted by the presidency. The 78-year-old leader has called homosexuality a “deviation from normal” and urged lawmakers to resist “imperialist” pressure.
Uganda receives billions of dollars in foreign aid each year and could now face sanctions.
The bill’s sponsor, Asuman Basalirwa, told reporters that parliament speaker Anita Among’s U.S. visa was cancelled after the law was signed. She responded: “With a lot of humility, I thank my colleagues the Members of Parliament for withstanding all the pressure from bullies and doomsday conspiracy theorists in the interest of our country.”
The White House condemned the bill passed in March, and last month, the U.S. government said it was assessing the implications of the legislation for activities in Uganda under PEPFAR, its flagship HIV/AIDS program.
President Joe Biden declared: “The enactment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act is a tragic violation of universal human rights. I join with people around the world—including many in Uganda—in calling for its immediate repeal.”
“We are considering additional steps, including the application of sanctions and restriction of entry into the United States against anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption.”.
Ugandan rights advocate Stella Nyanzi responded: “Cry beloved Uganda, cry for this sad day for the rights of LGBTIQA+ people and their allies. La luta continua!”
Canadian foreign minister Melanie Joly said this: “Uganda’s ‘anti-gay’ bill is abhorrent, cruel and unjust. No one should live in fear or be persecuted for who they are and who they love. We stand with the LGBQTQ+ community in pushing back against the rising crackdown on their human rights.” [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo credit: ‘African Equality Foundation’ Facebook
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