International outcry after the enactment of an anti-homosexuality law in Uganda

Uganda is creating a real controversy on the international scene

International outcry after the enactment of an anti-homosexuality law in Uganda

Uganda is creating a real controversy on the international scene. The East African country has announced a new law introducing harsh penalties for any same-sex relationship, as well as for what is considered the "promotion" of homosexuality. This new measure outrages and worries on several levels, from local NGOs to the White House.

The head of state, Yoweri Museveni, "approved" the text, which "now becomes the anti-homosexuality law 2023", announced the presidency. The news reignited fears sparked in March by the passing of the bill, which then head of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Volker Türk, described as "discriminatory text - probably the world's worst of its kind"

The OHCHR said on Monday it was "dismayed" to see the "draconian and discriminatory" bill come into force, "contrary to the Constitution and international treaties", which paves the way for "systematic violations of the rights of LGBT people. ". US President Joe Biden, denouncing a "tragic violation" of human rights, is studying the consequences of this law on "all aspects of cooperation between the United States and Uganda", including aid and investments, according to a statement from the White House.

"Uganda's failure to protect the rights of LGBTQI people is part of a broader breakdown of human rights protections" in the country, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who mentioned visa restrictions. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell calls the law "deplorable" and "contrary to human rights" in a statement, citing "compromised" relations with Kampala. A former colonial power, the UK "is appalled that the Ugandan government has signed onto the deeply discriminatory anti-homosexuality law", according to a statement from Foreign Secretary Andrew Mitchell.

The text had been amended at the margin by the parliamentarians, at the request of President Museveni. The elected officials had clarified that being homosexual was not a crime, but that sexual relations between people of the same sex were. In this East African country where homosexuality is illegal, "acts of homosexuality" have been punishable by life since a law dating back to British colonization.

Parliamentarians upheld a provision making "aggravated homosexuality" a capital offence, meaning repeat offenders could be sentenced to death. In Uganda, however, the death penalty has not been applied for years. An NGO has announced that it has taken the Ugandan High Court to the "blatantly unconstitutional" law. Criminalizing activity between consenting adult homosexuals "violates key provisions of the Constitution, including the right to equality and non-discrimination," said Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum. (HRAPF).

A Ugandan MP who initiated the text said on Monday that he expected Western sanctions. "They are going to cut aid to Uganda," Asuman Basalirwa said, saying new "development partners" needed to be found, especially in the Arab world. Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, welcomed the promulgation of the text by Mr. Museveni, who himself describes homosexuality as "deviance"

“We have heeded the concerns of our people and legislated to protect the sanctity of the family…. We have stood firm in defending the culture, values ​​and aspirations of our people,” she said in a statement. The law enjoys broad popular support and opposition reactions have been rare in the country, which has been ruled with an iron fist since 1986 by Yoweri Museveni.

Homophobia is widespread in Uganda, as in the rest of East Africa. While there have been no recent prosecutions for homosexual acts, harassment and intimidation are the daily life of homosexuals in Uganda, where an evangelical Christianity has developed which is vehement towards the LGBT movement.