On 2 May, Uganda’s Parliament passed the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill and sent it back to President Yoweri Museveni. The President has until 31 May to either sign, veto or return the Bill back to Parliament. The Bill criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct and has retained the death penalty in cases of “aggravated homosexuality”. It also allows a 20-year sentence for “promoting homosexuality”, which could outlaw any advocacy for the rights of LGBTI persons in the country. Criminalizing consensual same-sex conduct blatantly violates numerous human rights, including the rights to dignity, equality before the law, equal protection by the law, and non-discrimination. The President must veto the law and ensure the human rights of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, are protected.
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I am writing to express grave concern about the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill which entrenches criminalization of consensual same-sex conduct in Uganda and is in violation of numerous human rights of LGBTI individuals and those defending their rights in Uganda, including the rights to dignity, equality before the law, equal protection by the law, non-discrimination, and freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
On 21 March, the Ugandan Parliament passed the Bill with 387 out of 389 MPs voting in favor of the Blil, which was then sent to the President to sign. On 21 April, the President sent the Bill back with revisions. On 2 May, Parliament passed an amended version that included the President’s recommendations. The Bill now sits with His Excellency, who has until 31 May to either sign the Bill, veto it or return it once again to Parliament for revisions.
The amended version of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill still imposes a punishment of life imprisonment for same-sex sexual conduct, and up to 10 years imprisonment for attempted same-sex sexual acts. It also imposes the death penalty in cases of “aggravated homosexuality” – a broad term used to describe actions including same-sex acts among people living with HIV- and criminalizes the “promotion of homosexuality” with a 20-year prison sentence. The Bill will have a devastating impact on LGBTI individuals in Uganda, who already face institutional and widespread discrimination, fueling violence and discrimination against them, as well as reinforcing stigma and gender-based stereotypes negatively affecting LGBTI people. It will also have a chilling effect on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, as individuals who support LGBTI rights also risk persecution and imprisonment.
I urge you to immediately veto the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill and take steps to protect the human rights of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression. I also urge you to take all necessary steps to condemn discriminatory violence and to take actions to protect LGBTI people and human rights defenders from discriminatory attacks that are fueled by the discussions around the Bill.