Uganda Man Receives First-Ever Charge Of Aggravated Homosexuality

Uganda is facing backlash for its first-ever charge in direct offense of new anti-gay legislation. Prosecutors in the country charged a 20-year-old man with “aggravated homosexuality” on Aug. 18, a crime that could lead to the death penalty.

Reuters confirmed the news on Aug. 28, as the young man was charged with “performing unlawful sexual intercourse” with another member of the same sex, a 41-year-old male. However, the nature of the act and why it was considered “aggravated” remains unknown.

Jacqueline Okui, a government spokesperson, told the news outlet that the accused was notified of the charges.

“Since it is a capital offense triable by the High Court, the charge was read out and explained to him in the Magistrate’s Court on the 18th and he was remanded,” shared Okui, who works on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecution’s office.

The homophobic legislation was officially passed in May and is recognized as one of the strictest and most severe laws regarding same-sex relationships currently legal globally. Those found guilty of these crimes face life in prison and a death sentence depending on factors such as repeat offenses, transmitting diseases through intercourse, and performing same-sex acts on a minor, elderly person, or disabled individual.

The case is particularly significant given that the defendant is the first to be prosecuted for an aggravated charge. The global community has threatened Uganda with action if it does not revise its laws. Most recently, the World Bank has ceased all new public financing support to the country, with the U.S. making provisions through visa restrictions.

If convicted, the accused man would be the first to be executed by the East African country in about 20 years. His attorney has stated that the law and its subsequent charges are unconstitutional, but a judge has yet to take up those claims in court.

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