The president of that nation has signed into law tough new measures aimed against the LGBTQ community.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed one of the world’s toughest anti-LGBTQ laws, including the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, drawing Western condemnation and risking sanctions from aid donors.
Same-sex relations were already illegal in Uganda, as in more than 30 African countries, but the new law goes further.
It stipulates capital punishment for “serial offenders” against the law and transmission of a terminal illness like HIV/AIDS through gay sex. It also decrees a 20-year sentence for “promoting” homosexuality.
A presidency photo of Museveni showed him signing the law with a golden pen at his desk. The 78-year-old has called homosexuality a “deviation from normal” and urged lawmakers to resist “imperialist” pressure.
A local organisation, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, and 10 other individuals later filed a complaint against the law at the constitutional court, one of the petitioners, Busingye Kabumba, told Reuters.
Museveni had sent the original bill passed in March back, asking parliament to tone down some provisions. But his ultimate approval was not seen as in doubt in a conservative country where anti-LGBTQ attitudes have hardened in recent years, in part due to campaigning by Western evangelical church groups.
As one Uganda LGBTQ-rights activist said to a BBC interviewer, these Christian evangelical groups have lost the culture wars in the US and other western countries and are now fighting a rearguard action in Africa. I think that is true. In many of the western countries, homosexuality and same-sex marriages are now not only legal but part of accepted culture, as can be seen by their routine presence in the media that now do not even raise any eyebrows. I think that the targeting of the transgender community is another sign of the religious groups feeling that they are losing the culture wars, because they are attacking the most marginalized of the LGBTQ+ community, the ones who are smaller in number and have the least power. But they will lose that too. Just as the general public realized that same-sex marriage did not lead to the end of civilization as we know it, they will soon start accepting the transgender community as well.
It should be noted that the UK that had laws criminalizing homosexuality that were used to persecute people like Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing. These laws were exported to their colonies like Uganda and put into their penal codes. But that tide is turning as countries like India and Sri Lanka are increasingly recognizing the rights of the LGBTQ community. There are now pride parades in Sri Lanka, something that would have been unthinkable during the time when I lived there.