The LGBTQ+ community in Africa just took another L in the fight for their rights.
Bloomberg reported that officials in Uganda just approved a bill with stricter laws against gay people. The new legislation will issue harsher penalties outlawing homosexuality – including death and life sentences in prison. Documents list same-sex intercourse with persons under 18, an “offender” who is HIV+, or a person who even identifies as LGBTQ, as aggravated homosexuality.
While the legislation hasn’t been implemented as an official law, Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, who is a strong critic of LGBTQ, is expected to sign it into law.
The almost-unanimous vote happened Tuesday night in a packed chamber, with only two out of close to 400 representatives voting against it.
“Congratulations,” Speaker Anita Among said, according to NPR. “Whatever we are doing, we are doing it for the people of Uganda.”
LGBTQ advocates, like U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, criticized the vote. In a tweet, Blinken said the bill “would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
The Anti-Homosexuality Act passed by the Ugandan Parliament yesterday would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We urge the Ugandan Government to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 22, 2023
After hearing the news, advocacy groups followed in the Secretary of State’s footsteps, making statements against the rulings. “If signed into law by the president, it will render lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said. “It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other.”
International rights for members of the community are facing increased pressure as some countries are doubling down on stricter LGBTQ laws. Kenya’s President, William Ruto, recently opposed pro-LGBTQ rulings by the nation’s top court, while officials in Ghana are considering placing legislation against gay people as well.