Ugandan president signs anti-LGBT+ law

The text had raised an international outcry after its vote by the Ugandan parliament. Despite these condemnations, Yoweri Museveni, the president of the East African country, signed into law a controversial anti-LGBT+ law with heavy penalties for same-sex relations and the “promotion” of homosexuality, which had sparked outrage from many NGOs and threats from Western governments, the presidency announced on Monday.

“The President has approved the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023. It now becomes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023,” the Ugandan presidency announced in a brief statement posted on its official Twitter account.

The vote on this bill in Parliament on March 21 caused an international outcry and President Yoweri Museveni asked parliamentarians at the end of April to “re-examine” the text, enjoining them in particular to specify that the “fact of being homosexual” does not wasn’t a crime, only sex was.

In a version modified at the margin and voted unanimously minus one vote on May 2, the elected officials had included in the text that “a person who is presumed or suspected of being homosexual, who has not committed sexual act with another person of the same sex, does not commit the offense of homosexuality”.

In this East African country where homosexuality is illegal, “acts of homosexuality” are punishable by life imprisonment since a law dating from British colonization.

In the new version of the text, the parliamentarians however maintained, against the opinion of the Head of State, a provision making “aggravated homosexuality” a capital crime, which means that repeat offenders may be sentenced to death. In Uganda, the death penalty has not been applied for years.

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A provision on the “promotion” of homosexuality also worries gay rights organizations. According to the text, anyone – individual or organization – “knowingly promotes homosexuality” faces up to 20 years in prison. If it is an organization, it risks a ten-year ban.

This new version of the text had been condemned by Amnesty International. The NGO had asked President Museveni to oppose this “contemptuous law (which) flagrantly violates the human rights of LGBTI people in Uganda”.

After the initial vote on March 21, the US, UK and EU condemned the bill. The White House had warned Uganda of potential economic “consequences”.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, denounced a “discriminatory text – probably the worst in the world of its kind”. In a resolution on April 20, MEPs deplored “President Museveni’s contribution to the rhetoric of hatred against” LGBT+ people.

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