Uganda’s New Anti-LGBTI Law a Huge Step Backwards | Freedom House

Uganda’s New Anti-LGBTI Law a Huge Step Backwards

Washington

Photo credit: riekhavoc / CC BY-SA 2.0
 
Publication in Uganda of the names of 200 people said to be homosexual should make clear to President Yoweri Museveni and the Ugandan government that the country’s new anti-LGBTI law endangers fundamental human rights and should be repealed. Freedom House urges Ugandan lawmakers to repeal the law immediately and thereby adhere to the principles of equality and tolerance laid out in both international agreements and Uganda’s own constitution.

“This law is harmful not only to the LGBTI community but marks a huge step backwards for all Ugandans,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “ It enshrines discrimination, based on indefensible prejudice.  The law creates a climate that encourages attacks on LGBTI people, with the newspaper’s publication of names a first example of it.”

“The law, and any actions to enforce it, take Uganda in exactly the wrong direction - away from tolerance and the basic ingredients of a democracy in which all citizens have equal, protected rights,” Kramer said.

Although homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, the law that President Museveni signed last week mandates a life sentence for people convicted of homosexual acts, which include touching “with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” Although the death penalty was removed from the final version of the law, the measure criminalizes same-sex marriage ceremonies and the promotion of homosexuality, allowing prison terms of up to seven years. It also creates the crime of “aggravated homosexuality,” which includes sexual contact with “a person living with HIV” or being “a serial offender,”  punishable by up to life imprisonment.

Uganda’s law targeting LGBTI people is broadly similar to a law that Nigeria’s president signed in January 2014 banning same-sex marriage and public displays of same-sex affection. Homosexuality is illegal in 38 African countries, and there are signs that anti-gay sentiment is rising.

“This is a significant moment for Uganda and all nations that may be considering repressive laws,” said Kramer. “They are eroding the fundamental human rights of their citizens, and the international community has a responsibility to respond.”

In response to Museveni’s signing, Norway is withholding financial aid, while Denmark announced it would shift its assistance to private industries. The United States cautioned that the law would complicate relations with Uganda.

Uganda is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2014, Freedom of the Press 2013 and Freedom on the Net 2013.

Learn more:
Freedom Alert: Uganda’s Anti-LGBTI Law Promotes Intolerance
Press Release: Uganda’s President Should Not Sign Draconian Anti-LGBTI Law
Global Day of Action against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Freedom in the World 2013: Uganda
Freedom of the Press 2013: Uganda
Freedom on the Net 2013: Uganda
Blog: Freedom at Issue

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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