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In A First, 20-Year-Old Ugandan Man May Face Death Penalty For “Aggravated Homosexuality”

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According to prosecutors and his attorney, a 20-year-old man has been charged for the first time in Uganda with “aggravated homosexuality,” a crime that carries a death sentence under the nation’s recently passed anti-gay law.

Uganda passed one of the worst anti-LGBT laws in the world in May, defying objections from Western governments and human rights organisations.

Same-sex relationships are punishable by a life sentence in jail. In circumstances deemed “aggravated,” such as those involving recurrent offences, gay sex that results in the transmission of a terminal illness, or same-sex contact with a youngster, an elderly person, or a person with a disability, the death penalty may be imposed.

The defendant, who was accused on August 18 with aggravated homosexuality, allegedly “performed unlawful sexual intercourse” with a 41-year-old man, according to a charge. However, it didn’t mention the reason behind its consideration of being aggravated.

“Since it is a capital offence triable by the High Court, the charge was read out and explained to him in the Magistrate’s Court on (the) 18th and he was remanded,” said Jacqueline Okui, spokesperson for the office of the director of public prosecutions.

Okui gave no other information on the incident. She claimed to be unaware of any other people who had previously faced aggravated homosexuality charges.

Attorney for the defendant Justine Balya stated that she thought the entire law was unlawful. Although the law has been contested in court, the case has not yet been heard by the judges.

Since the law’s passage, Balya claimed that four more individuals had been accused of violating it, but her client was the first to face legal action for aggravated homosexuality.

The death penalty has not been abolished in Uganda in about 20 years, but President Yoweri Museveni promised to resume executions in 2018 to stem a criminal upsurge. Three months ago, the law was passed, prompting considerable criticism and penalties threats. In response to the bill, the World Bank earlier this month halted new public financing to Uganda.

Some Ugandan officials have also been subject to visa restrictions from the US, and President Joe Biden has directed a review of US aid to Uganda.

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