Uganda’s Parliament passed a bill Tuesday evening that will criminalize identifying as LGBTQ, adding to the discrimination gay Ugandans face in a country where same-sex acts already carry a sentence of life imprisonment.
Uganda is one of 30 African countries which bans same-sex acts, but the new legislation, which received sweeping support in Parliament, goes a step further.
The bill proposes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”—a broad term that includes having sex with someone who is HIV positive or “repeat offenders.” It also outlaws the “promotion of homosexuality” with a prison sentence of up to 20 years for anyone who advocates for LGBTQ rights or provides financial support to organizations that do so.
“Congratulations,” said Anita Among, the speaker of the parliament. “Whatever we are doing, we are doing it for the people of Uganda.”
The move has sparked international outrage. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby warned of potential economic repercussions if the bill is signed into law. Volker Türk, the U.N. ‘s High Commissioner for Human Rights, called the bill “draconian” and urged Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni not to sign it.
Museveni, who has spoken in support of the legislation, has 30 days to sign the bill into law.
“If signed into law by the President, it will render lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are. It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other,” said Türk.
Human Rights Watch called the bill “a more egregious version” of the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act that caused international outrage and was struck down on “procedural grounds”.
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