Uganda mulls new anti-LGBTQ bill


Uganda’s new anti-gay bill, which proposes punishing people who support or fund homosexuality, has widespread support from MPs — but rights activists say the bill is a diversion from the real issues affecting citizens.

Ugandan lawmakers are hopeful that a new law designed to tighten restrictions on gay rights and activities will soon become a reality. A controversial anti-gay bill has already been introduced to parliament by a leading lawmaker that, if passed into law, would punish the “promotion, recruitment and funding” of LGBT activities. Even before the bill is debated, most lawmakers have told DW that they intend giving their support.

‘Crime against morality’

Lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa led the process of drafting the bill after earlier legislation was annulled by Uganda’s Constitutional Court in 2014.

The court had ruled that the law — which sought to impose life imprisonment for homosexual relations — had been passed without the required number of MPs in the parliament. Homosexuality remains illegal in Uganda, though, with the Penal Code Act still categorizing it as a crime against morality. Lawmaker Basalirwa said due process will be followed with regards to the new bill. He said it already has the needed backing of his colleagues from across the political divide.

Religious support

Before the bill was even introduced to parliament, various groups including religious and cultural leaders had already asked for a more stringent law. “If it means bringing back that law, we are in support of that law banning the LGBT practice in Uganda,” Sheikh Shaban Mubaje, Uganda’s mufti, told DW. The church of Uganda has also threatened to break away from the Anglican Church after Britain consecrated a gay bishop.

The speaker of Uganda’s parliament, Annet Anita Among, said when the time comes for the bill to be voted on, MPs will have to demonstrate their support or otherwise by a show of hands. Among said Ugandans must see who is supporting homosexuality or otherwise. “We will bring a bill on anti-homosexuality, and I want to request the religious leaders that this time round be there to see who is who,” she said. Anita Among in January this year directed the Education Committee of parliament to investigate schools suspected of encouraging LGBTQ rights.

African v European values

Homophobia is rife in Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni has called gay people “disgusting” in media interviews. “We have been telling them [the West] that please this problem of homosexuality is not something that we should normalize and celebrate,” Museveni said. The Ugandan president said those backing gay rights lack respect for African norms and values. “The Europeans, they don’t listen, they don’t respect other people’s views, they want to turn the abnormal into normal,” he said. The new bill is proposing punishment for people who support or fund homosexuality.

‘Bill is a diversion’

Dr. Frank Mugisha, executive director of leading gay rights organization Sexual Minorities Uganda, described the ongoing debate over homosexuality a “diversion” from the real issues that affect Ugandans. “Community members are living in fear,” Mugisha said. “Homosexual acts are already illegal, and a new law would mean more harassment and discrimination against people who are already vulnerable.” But since independence from Britain in 1962, there has never been a conviction for consensual same-sex activity in Uganda.


Posted by on Mar 11 2023. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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