Uganda passed a bill making it a crime for LGBT people to identify themselves – and the death penalty for “aggravated homophobia”.
This law targets the LGBTQ community in a country that already has legal discrimination and mob violence against gay people.
More than 30 African countries including Uganda have already banned the practice of same-sex relationships.
The new law’s supporters argue that a wider range of LGBT activities should be punished because they are threatening traditional values.
The law will prohibit people from “promoting and abetting homosexuality” as well as conspiring to engage in same-sex relationships.
There will be severe penalties, including death for so called aggravated homosexuality or life imprisonment for gay sex.
According to law, aggrevated homosexuality is gay sex with persons under 18 years of age or with HIV-positive people.
The bill was approved late Tuesday night in a packed parliament chamber and supported by almost all 389 representatives from Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
President Yoweri Mugabe will now have final say on the legislation. He can either veto it or sign it into law.
Recently, he suggested that he supported the move and accused Western countries of trying to “impose their practices upon other people”.
An opposition politician introduced the bill last month. He stated that his goal was to penalize “promotion, recruiting and funding homosexuality.”
During the debate, David Bahati, a politician, said that “Our creator God is happy [about] this… To protect our children’s future, I support the bill.
“This is about our sovereignty, nobody should threaten us or blackmail us.”
Fox Odoi, a politician, said that the bill was “ill-conceived” because it “criminalises individuals rather than conduct”.
A 2014 version of the bill was rejected by a court for procedural reasons.
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Human Rights Watch described this legislation as “an even more egregious form” of the 2014 law that drew international concern. It was eventually repealed under pressure from Uganda’s partners in development.
Human Rights Watch stated that the bill, if it is signed into law, “would violate multiple basic rights, including freedom of expression, association, privacy and equality, as well as non-discrimination”.
Oryem Nyeko, the spokesperson for the group, stated that “one of the most extreme aspects of this bill is that it criminalizes people simply because they are who they are” in a statement released earlier this month.
“Ugandan politicians should concentrate on passing laws to protect vulnerable minorities, affirm fundamental rights, and stop targeting LGBT persons for political capital.”