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DETAILED: 12 penalties, offences in Uganda’s new anti-homosexuality bill

Speaker Anita Among, who presided over Tuesday’s sitting to pass the bill said they would do whatever it takes to preserve the cultural values of the country.

Bubulo East MP, John Musila poses ahead the plenary sitting at Parliament where lawmakers passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023, as it returned for the second and third reading on March 21, 2023. PHOTO/ DAVID LUBOWA/ DM

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Ugandan Parliament on Tuesday enacted the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023, introducing tough penalties, including death for aggravated homosexuality, as well as imprisonment of up to 20 years for acts of homosexuality, promoting homosexuality, child grooming and promotion of homosexuality.

According to the newly modified act of the nullified 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, any Ugandan who fails to report acts of homosexuality faces a fine of Shs100m or imprisonment for six months.

However, a person who intentionally makes false or misleading allegations against another person to the effect that the person has committed an offence under this Act faces a year in prison.

The Act also bans a person convicted of the offence of homosexuality or aggravated homosexuality from employment in a child care institution, while ex-convicts of the said offences will have to disclose such record to prospective employers. 

Below are the 12 Offences and Corresponding Penalties listed in the Act

Type of OffencePenalty
Homosexuality20-year imprisonment
Attempted homosexuality10-year imprisonment
Aggravated homosexualityDeath
Attempted Aggravated homosexuality14-year imprisonment
Child homosexualityThree-year imprisonment
Child grooming (recruiting, displaying/ distributing  material displaying same-sex sexual acts, performing a same-sex-sexual act in presence of a child)20-year imprisonment
Allowing use of any premises for purposes of homosexuality [owner, occupier or manager]
10-year imprisonment 
Purporting to contract, presiding over, witnessing, attending a same-sex marriage10-year imprisonment
Promotion of homosexuality [encourages or persuades same-gender sexual acts, advertises, publishes, provides financial support, uses or allows another person to use any premises for homosexuality],20-year imprisonment
Promotion by a legal entity– Fine of 50,000 currency points  – Suspension (10 years)  or cancellation of licence
Failure to disclose sexual offences record when applying for a job in a child care institutionTwo-year imprisonment and termination
Failure to report intentions or acts of homosexuality A fine of Shs100m, or imprisonment for six months. 

The offences and penalties listed above have, however, received mixed reactions, with human rights activists condemning it as discriminatory and regressive.

In a statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Volker Turk, asked Mr Museveni to abstain from assenting to the Bill. 

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“The passing of this discriminatory Bill – probably among the worst of its kind in the world –- is a deeply troubling development,” he said in a statement. If signed into law by the President, it will render lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are. It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other,” he said. 
Similar sentiments were echoed by the US Secretary of State, Mr Anthony Blinken.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Act passed by the Ugandan Parliament yesterday would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/Aids. We urge the Ugandan government to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation,” Mr Blinken tweeted. 
According to the US Department of State, key in the US foreign policy is to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and “to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world.”     

Mr Anthony Kujawa, the spokesperson of the US Embassy Kampala, said the US has “significant concerns” about the law, adding “it would impinge upon the human rights of Ugandan citizens, jeopardise progress in the fight against HIV/Aids, deter tourism and investment in Uganda, and damage Uganda’s international reputation.”
Amnesty International, a global movement that campaigns to end human rights abuse, said the Bill “amounts to a grave assault on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people, and is contemptuous of the Ugandan Constitution.” 

“This ambiguous, vaguely-worded law even criminalizes those who ‘promote’ homosexuality or ‘attempt to commit the offence of homosexuality’. In reality, this deeply repressive legislation will institutionalise discrimination, hatred, and prejudice against LGBT people, including those who are perceived to be LGBT and block the legitimate work of civil society, public health professionals, and community leaders,” it notes.

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However, government has maintained they will not be swayed.  President Museveni, in an address to Parliament on March 16, said he would be guided by scientific evidence to establish if homosexuality is natural or not. At the same address, he lashed out at Western powers for imposing homosexuality on Africans.

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