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Death penalty imposed as Uganda passes law making it a crime to identify as LGBTQ

Death penalty imposed as Uganda passes law making it a crime to identify as LGBTQ
A masked Kenyan supporter of the LGBTQ community joins a protest against Uganda's anti-gay bill in front of the Ugandan High Commission in Nairobi on 10 February, 2014. (EPA / Dai Kurokawa)

KAMPALA, March 21 (Reuters) – Uganda's parliament passed a law on Tuesday making it a crime to identify as LGBTQ, handing authorities broad powers to target gay Ugandans who already face legal discrimination and mob violence.

More than 30 African countries, including Uganda, already ban same-sex relations. The new law appears to be the first to outlaw merely identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ), according to rights group Human Rights Watch.

Supporters of the new law say it is needed to punish a broader array of LGBTQ activities, which they say threaten traditional values in the conservative and religious East African nation.

In addition to same-sex intercourse, the law bans promoting and abetting homosexuality as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality.

Violations under the law carry severe penalties, including death for so-called aggravated homosexuality and life in prison for gay sex. Aggravated homosexuality involves gay sex with people under the age of 18 or when the perpetrator is HIV positive, among other categories, according to the law.

The legislation will be sent to President Yoweri Museveni to be signed into law.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Pretoria on 1 March 2023. (Photo: Guillem Sartorio / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Our creator God is happy (about) what is happening… I support the bill to protect the future of our children,” legislator David Bahati said during debate on the bill. This is about the sovereignty of our nation, nobody should blackmail us, nobody should intimidate us.”


Ugandans read daily newspapers on 25 February 2014 with headlines and images of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signing the anti-gay legislation in Kampala on 24 February 2014. (Photo: EPA / Ronald Kabuubi)


Frank Mugisha, a prominent Ugandan LGBTQ activist, denounced the legislation as draconian. “This law is very extreme and draconian… it criminalises being an LGBTQ person, but also they are trying to erase the entire existence of any LGBTQ Ugandan,” he said.

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Museveni has not commented on the current proposal but has long opposed LGBTQ rights and signed an anti-LGBTQ law in 2013 that Western countries condemned before a domestic court struck it down on procedural grounds.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 

Progress and setbacks on LGBT rights in Africa — an overview of the last year

Africa and homosexuality: Where science meets morality

In recent weeks, Uganda authorities have cracked down on LGBTQ people after religious leaders and politicians alleged students were being recruited into homosexuality in schools.

This month, authorities arrested a secondary school teacher in the eastern district of Jinja over accusations of “grooming of young girls into unnatural sex practices”.



She was subsequently charged with gross indecency and is in prison awaiting trial.

The police said on Monday they had arrested six people accused of running a network that was “actively involved in the grooming of young boys into acts of sodomy”. DM/Reuters

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Aaron Ross, Hereward Holland and Josie Kao)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Chris Reed says:

    I agree it’s a very bad (and backward law), but interesting to see how respectable the Ugandan Parliament is on TV. SA could learn from them.

  • Joe Irwin says:

    I cannot understand how it can even be suggested that students can be recruited into homosexuality in schools. A person cannot be persuaded to change their sexual preferences. One is either attracted to members of their same sex or they aren’t. I suppose the by-sexual individuals may be the exception, but there’s no way that a straight man or woman would even fantasize about sex with someone of their own sex.

  • Mark Gory Gory says:

    I hope the SA govt as well as all aid offering nations will withdraw any and all aid to Uganda (who am I kidding?)
    Africa all over again

  • Dewald Esterhuizen says:

    That’s rich comming from a country whose flag features a cock (yes, I know its a gray crowned crane, but it looks like a rooster)

  • DEBBIE AIREY says:

    Sanctions must be imposed on this Country and all aid to Uganda withdrawn, with immediate effect!! No human should be subjected to this. This is a humanitarian crisis of mammoth proportion and this Government must be held accountable. The Gay community have been ostracised for centuries. IT IS ENOUGH! Allow freedom for all! This Draconian ruling must be withdrawn. Disgusted!!!

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    Didn’t Cyril recently meet and hug the president ?
    Saying he looked forward to buying Ugandan goods in the supermarket, handcuffs and nooses ?

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