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Uganda Passes Law Criminalizing Identifying As LGBTQ

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A law that criminalizes identifying as LGBTQ was approved by Uganda’s parliament on Tuesday, giving authorities wide power to target Ugandans who already endure legal discrimination and mob violence.

Uganda is among the more than 30 African nations that already forbid same-sex relationships. Human Rights Watch claims that the new legislation appears to be the first to outlaw simply identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ).

Supporters of the new legislation argue that it is necessary to criminalize a wider range of LGBTQ behaviors in order to protect the country’s traditional values, which are conservative and religious. The legislation forbids same-sex relationships as well as aiding and abetting homosexual behavior as well as conspiring to engage in homosexual activity.

The law imposes severe penalties for violations, including the death penalty for alleged aggravated homosexuality and life in jail for gay sex. The legislation defines aggravated homosexuality as, among other types, having gay sex with a person under the age of 18 or when the offender has HIV.

During the discussion of the bill, lawmaker David Bahati stated, “Our creator God is happy (about) what is happening… I support the bill to protect the future of our children.”

“This is about the sovereignty of our country. Nobody should threaten or blackmail us.” President Yoweri Museveni will receive the measure to be signed into law.

Museveni has not responded to the current plan, but he has long opposed LGBTQ rights. In 2013, he signed a law that was decried by Western nations before being overturned by a domestic court on procedural grounds.

Following allegations from religious leaders and lawmakers that students were being recruited into homosexuality in schools, Ugandan authorities have cracked down on LGBTQ people in recent weeks.

Authorities in the Jinja district of eastern Uganda detained a secondary school teacher this month on suspicion of “grooming of young girls into unnatural sex practices.”

She is currently incarcerated while awaiting trial after being accused with gross indecency.

On Monday, the police announced that they had detained six individuals who were allegedly in charge of a network that was “actively engaged in the grooming of young boys.”

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