Now it's official: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed a law imposing draconian penalties against the LGBT community — including the death penalty in some cases.
Same-sex relationships have long been illegal in Uganda, as well as in most countries on the continent, but the new laws further curtail LGBT measures. For example, the death penalty will be imposed for cases of "aggravated homosexuality": having sex while HIV-positive, having sex with a minor or incest.
Museveni. "Resist the Western imperialists", photo: Reuters
Homosexual intercourse without "aggravating circumstances" will result in life imprisonment, an attempt to have such relations – up to ten years in prison.
The law also makes sex education banned for members of the gay community: "promoting homosexuality" would entail 20 years in prison. The laws also require reporting an LGBT citizen, but only in cases where there is a child in the picture. The law also calls for "rehabilitation for offenders" – in fact, "conversion therapy."
Ugandan gay couple. Staying in Uganda could endanger their lives, Photo: AP
"Today, the president whitewashed state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia," Claire Byrogava, a Ugandan rights activist, told Reuters. "This is a very dark and sad day for the LGBT community, our allies and Uganda as a whole."
Museveni, 78, who refers to homosexuality as an "aberration," signed the bill despite condemnation from Western countries and, more importantly, despite the risk of losing billions of dollars in aid to fight AIDS. The three major international anti-virus programs issued a joint statement saying the law "puts Uganda's fight against HIV at great risk."
Only nine years ago, less draconian legislation against the LGBT community was blocked by the local court following glitches in the procedure, but it seems that the more significant reason then was a series of measures taken by Western governments: delays in economic aid, visa restrictions, and reduced security cooperation.
Museveni, for his part, has moved closer to Moscow in recent years to reduce his dependence on the West. Last July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Kampala as part of his trip to Africa. The legislation passed parliament back in March, when Museveni demanded that lawmakers "resist imperialist pressure" — an apparent echo of Russia's rhetoric, which has also severely intensified anti-gay measures on the grounds of a cultural war in the West.
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