By Chris Muhizi

Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has signed into law some of the most repressive legislation on the planet in relation to homosexuality. The 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill suppresses LGBTQ advocacy, bans homosexuals from participating in society, and establishes the death penalty for serial offenders or those who have same-sex relations with a person with a disability, referred to in the bill as “aggravated homosexuality.” Prior to passage of the law, homosexuality was punishable by a life sentence in prison.

The 2023 bill makes it obligatory for Ugandans to notify the authorities if someone is suspected of engaging in same-sex acts, and conviction for neglecting to report carries a fine or a sentence of six months in jail. This applies to friends and family of LGBT individuals. In addition, anybody who performs a same-sex marriage ceremony faces a maximum 10-year prison sentence, and the same sentence applies to people who encourage the “offence of homosexuality.” For example, renting a room to a lesbian couple is considered an act of encouragement. Penalties of up to 20 years in prison may be imposed on anyone who supports LGBTQ rights or provides money to groups that do so. Also, the law makes it illegal to “advertise, publish, print, broadcast and distribute any related digital promotion of homosexuality in the country.”

Prejudice is nothing new, but extreme persecution is

Homosexuality is seen by many Ugandans as a Western import that is slowly seeping into the civilizations of the continent.

Consensual same-sex activities are illegal in more than half of Africa’s 54 countries, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, although a few African countries have made strides recently toward decriminalizing same-sex relationships, and many countries do not enforce their laws. Uganda, however, now does.

In 2009, a bill commonly known as “Kill the Gays” was filed at an anti-gay conference in Kampala. The bill recommended punishment by hanging for homosexuals. The conference was attended by representatives of the U.S. “ex-gay” movement – including well-known anti-gay evangelical Scott Lively.

Human Rights Watch has reported that after 2014, when the government of Uganda began to enforce its Anti-Homosexuality Act, homosexuals experienced a marked rise in police abuse, extortion, job loss, discriminatory evictions by landlords, and restricted access to health services. Over the years, Ugandan police have arbitrarily detained large numbers of people during LGBTQ pride events, at gay-friendly bars, and at homeless shelters. They have also subjected some of the detainees to cruel and inhumane practices while in prison. Homosexuality is seen by many Ugandans as a Western import that is slowly seeping into the civilizations of the continent.