Uganda’s harsh new attack on LGBTQ+ rights

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.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    the UK that had laws criminalizing homosexuality […] These laws were exported to their colonies like Uganda

    Uganda has been independent since 1962. The UK decriminalised homosexuality barely five years after that, in 1967. The lovely, tolerant, inclusive people of Uganda who had those horrible laws thrust upon them by the evil British have had over sixty years to throw off the influence of their imperialist oppressors. I wonder when they’ll get round to it.

  2. moonslicer says

    I think of all the right-wing Christians who, while condemning us and urging us to give up our wicked gay/transgender ways, assure us that they’re speaking out of love. In fact, one of them once told me he was speaking out of “supreme love”. That made me feel better.

  3. Silentbob says

    @ sonofrojblake

    Which part of

    where anti-LGBTQ attitudes have hardened in recent years, in part due to campaigning by Western evangelical church groups.

    did you not understand you racist fucknuckle.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    Which part of “in part” -- something YOU included in your quote -- did YOU not understand?

  5. Silentbob says

    I’m going to go on a bit of a nerdy detour so apologies in advance…

    but by coincidence I was watching an old DVD of an ancient Doctor Who story last night -- The Curse of Peladon from 1972.

    In the story, there’s a meeting of members of the “Galactic Federation”, one of which is a delegate from Alpha Centauri, and I’ll quote one fan’s transcription:

    (A non-humanoid enters. It is upright, green, with one large eye above the frill of its cloak, and six grasping appendages round its thorax.)
    HEPESH: The delegate from Alpha Centauri, member of the Galactic Federation, presents his credentials before his Majesty, King Peladon.
    PELADON: Peladon welcomes the delegate from Alpha Centauri.

    Presumably, his race don’t have names because he’s only ever referred to as “Alpha Centauri”. 🙂

    But he’s voiced by a female actor using a very high pitched “feminine” voice which leads to this exchange between the Doctor and his then-companion Jo Grant after there has been a mysterious death:

    DOCTOR: Believe me, I know the Ice Warriors, Jo. They’re a savage and a warlike race. No, among the delegates, only Ssorg’s strength could have shifted that statue.
    JO: I still think you’re jumping to conclusions.
    DOCTOR: Well, who else could be responsible? Arcturus is only a box of tricks, and I hardly think Centauri would hurt a fly, would you?
    JO: No, I think he’s rather sweet. Or is he a she?
    DOCTOR: Neither. She is an it. It’s a hermaphrodite hexapod.
    JO: Oh.

    Nevertheless, everyone continues to refer to Centauri as he.

    My observation is that even in children’s TV, fully 50 years ago, there was the concept that male and female aren’t all there is, there is also such a thing as intersex; and that one’s pronouns refer to identity, not biology. It might have been green aliens they were talking about, but still the concepts were there.

    Can you imagine if this were new today? TERFs and other right-wing reactionaries would be calling it indoctrination of children into “gender ideology”. X-D

  6. sonofrojblake says

    Two other points about Alpha Centauri:
    1. It was in a couple of stories in the 70s, and popped up in a fan-pleasing cameo in 2017 voiced by the same actor, who in 2017 was NINETY TWO years old.
    2. It’s appropriate you in particular should bring it up, because that character is especially famous among fans for looking like a massive dick.

  7. Silentbob says

    Has there ever been anywhere ever where being gay was punished except under the influence of Christianity? I know immediately the bigots in the blog will say Islam; but that came from Christianity.

    We know pre-Christian western cultures like ancient Greece and Rome were accepting, even celebratory, of being gay. Were there any cultures who ever opposed LGBTQ people for any other reason than it makes Jesus cry?

  8. sonofrojblake says

    Has there ever been anywhere ever where being gay was punished except under the influence of Christianity?

    Absolutely hilarious. Really, honestly very funny indeed. Are you perhaps scared of being labelled anti-semitic? Maybe you are, maybe with good reason. You do understand that the Old Testament is a bunch of Jewish scripture, right? That by definition pre-dates Christianity?

    Leviticus, 18:22 -- homosexual acts are an abomination.
    Leviticus, 20:13 -- if a man has sex with another man, kill them both.

    Not sure how much clearer that can be, and how much the opposite of being-influenced-by-Christianity that can be.

    As for “it makes Jesus cry”, JC himself seemed oddly silent on the issue. It was yer man Paul who seemed to have it in for teh gayz. But hang on, here I am expecting you to recognise names from a book you obviously know almost nothing about. Give it a read, you really should, it’s great -- proper fantasy fiction, some good poetry, some superhero stuff. There are some dull bits and the plot is ludicrously inconsistent and full of holes but it’s been so culturally influential that you really should try to find out a bit about it. It’s called “The Bible” and you get a two-for-one deal, Old Testament and New Testament in one set of covers (unless you nick it from a hotel bedside cabinet drawer…).

    I know immediately the bigots in the blog will say Islam

    … because you’re so good at thinking like a bigot. Well done you.

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    Silentbob @8:

    We know pre-Christian western cultures like ancient Greece and Rome were accepting, even celebratory, of being gay.

    The Ancient Greeks didn’t know from ‘gay’. They knew active (penetrative; male, adult, high status), and passive (lower status, female or boy). Hardly exemplars of Gay Liberation.

  10. Holms says

    #8 sbob

    I know immediately the bigots in the blog will say Islam; but that came from Christianity.

    Holy shit, do you actually think criticism of Islam is always bigotry? Islam ‘came from Christianity’ oh okayyyy, but no similar pass given to Christianity despite it originating from Judaism? All Christian-caused ills in the world are actually Jewish by that logic.

    Also, way to remove the agency of Muslims you utter tool.

  11. sonofrojblake says

    Ssshhh, Holms -- Silentbob is trying not to say OUT LOUD that they think all homophobia in human history is exclusively the fault of the Jews. I mean -- that IS, undisputably what they ARE saying, but for goodness sake allow them some plausible deniability, otherwise how will they possibly be able to pretend they have some moral high ground to allow them to accuse others of racism?

    Also, way to remove agency of the Ugandans, you racist… what was it again? Fucknuckle, that was it. Did you also miss the n-word in the post title? “Uganda’s harsh NEW attack on LGBTQ+ rights” -- if it’s new, bringing up colonial rule that ended when Kennedy was still President seems at best a distraction and at worst egregiously disingenuous anti-British bias.

  12. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    SilentBob in 3 is being pretty racist by denying agency of Ugandans and seemingly placing most of the blame on outside actors. Reminds me a lot Chomsky’s recent madness where he also denies any agency to Ukrainians because of his hard-on for blaming everything on American imperialism.

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