(CNN) — Ugandan lawmakers passed some of the world’s toughest anti-gay laws on Tuesday, punishing some crimes with the death penalty and imposing up to 20 years in prison for people who identify as LGBTQ+.
The new legislation constitutes a new crackdown on LGBTQ+ people in a country where same-sex relationships were already illegal and punishable by life imprisonment. It is directed against a whole range of activities, including a ban on promoting and inciting homosexuality, as well as conspiring to commit homosexual acts, Reuters reported.
According to the bill, the death penalty can be applied in cases of “aggravated homosexuality”, a broad term used in the law to describe sexual acts committed without consent or under duress, against children, people with mental or physical disabilities, by “a offender” or involving incest.
The amendments, presented by the President of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Robina Rwakoojo, say: “Anyone who commits an aggravated crime of homosexuality can be sentenced to death.”
Opposition legislator Asuman Basalirwa presented to Parliament the bill against homosexuality 2023, stating that its objective is “to protect our ecclesiastical culture; the legal, religious and traditional family values of Ugandans from the acts that can promote sexual promiscuity in this country”.
“The purpose of the bill was to establish comprehensive and improved legislation to protect traditional family values, our diverse culture, our beliefs, prohibiting any form of same-sex sexual relations and the promotion or recognition of same-sex sexual relations. same sex,” Basalirwa said on Tuesday.
Lawmaker Fox Odoi-Oywelowo spoke out against the bill, stating that it “violates established international and regional human rights standards” as it “unfairly limits the fundamental rights of LGBTQ+ people”.
Human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned earlier this month that the law would violate the rights of Ugandans.
“One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalizes people simply for being who they are, further infringing on the rights to privacy and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda.” Oryem Nyeko, HRW researcher in Uganda, said in a statement urging the country’s politicians to “stop targeting LGBT people for political capital”.
The bill is expected to be forwarded to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for approval. Museveni last week mocked homosexuals as “deviant”.
Anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment runs deep in this highly conservative and religious East African nation.
Uganda made headlines in 2009 when it introduced an anti-homosexuality bill that included the death penalty for same-sex relationships.
The country’s lawmakers passed a bill in 2014, but replaced the death penalty clause with a proposed life sentence. That law was eventually overturned.
— CNN’s Hannah Ritchie contributed reporting.