(San Francisco, CA, December 20, 2013)—Today, Uganda’s parliament passed a law that enacts severe penalties for being gay, making it a crime punishable—in some cases—with life in prison. The bill imposes a 14-year jail term for the first conviction and a life sentence for a conviction of “aggravated homosexuality.”
The legislation—officially titled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill—specifically prohibits “any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex.” It further criminalizes “the promotion or recognition” of these relationships “through or with the support of any government entity in Uganda or any other nongovernmental organization inside or outside the country.” The bill will now move to President Yoweri Museveni for his signature before it can be enacted.
A previous version of this bill—which President Obama declared “odious” when it was initially introduced—was proposed in 2009. That version of the bill contained even more draconian measures including a provision making it mandatory for people to report any same-sex relationships to officials and making these relationships punishable by death. Major backlash from Ugandan activists and the international community resulted in those provisions being excluded from the version ultimately passed. However, the bill remains one of the most significant violations of fundamental human rights for LGBTQ people internationally.
This devastating move comes on the heels of a similar bill in Nigeria clearing one of its final hurdles before heading to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for his signature.
Statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.
“The passage of this dangerous and dehumanizing law will cause harm of irreducible proportions to LGBTQ Ugandans. We strongly urge President Museveni to stand up for equality, fairness, and all Ugandan people and refuse to sign this hateful bill.
In a week where we’ve seen significant victories for LGBTQ equality in the U.S., the continued criminalization of people in the international community simply for being who they are offers a sobering reminder of how much of our global family remains divorced from some of our recent triumphs.
Our fight for equality does not happen in a vacuum; rather, it is tied to the fight for equality across the world, and we will not leave anyone behind in this fight. Our work will not be done until LGBTQ people—regardless of where they live—are free to be who they are without fear for their safety or their freedom. We offer our unwavering support to our Ugandan sisters and brothers and call on President Museveni to do the right thing and refuse to sign this bill into law.”