Uganda President Signs Bill Outlawing Same-Sex Relationships; Biden White House Not Happy

In response to public pressure, lawmakers in Uganda enacted a bill that would make it a crime to engage in same-sex relationships, further marginalizing the LGBTQ minority in the East African nation. After a roll call conducted by the House speaker, who had repeatedly warned it was vital to identify individuals who could oppose the bill, the legislation was ultimately passed late Tuesday in a full parliamentary chamber. Almost all of the 389 lawmakers present voted in favor of it. House Speaker Anita Among reportedly offered her congratulations. When it comes down to it, whatever we do is for the good of Ugandans.

If President Yoweri Museveni approves the bill, it will become law. In a recent address, he implied his support for the law by criticizing "nameless Western nations of seeking to impose their traditions on other people." According to CNN, the bill features "some of the world's strongest anti-gay laws" and was filed last month by an opposition legislator whose stated objective was to punish "promotion, recruiting, and funding" associated to LGBTQ activities. Homosexual actions are already illegal in Uganda, but new measure expands the list of criminal offenses, as the BBC notes. According to the Associated Press, the crime of "homosexuality" carries the same penalty of life in jail as did sex acts "against the order of nature" under a penal code enacted during the colonial era.

According to the BBC, the final version of the law has not been made public, but the BBC does list some of the likely contents, such as a life term for anyone guilty of grooming or trafficking adolescents in order to engage them in homosexual acts. It goes on to say that "as well as making merely identifying as gay illegal for the first time," friends, relatives, and members of the community would be obligated to report those in same-sex relationships to the authorities.

According to CNN, a person might face the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," which includes sexual actions committed by a "serial offender" while under duress or in the presence of minors.

The bill is "ill-conceived" and unlawful since it "criminalizes individuals instead of conduct," said lawmaker Fox Odoi, representing dissidents. Human Rights Watch claims that the bill's passage into law would be a violation of a wide range of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression and association, privacy, equality, and nondiscrimination. More than 30 of Africa's 54 countries have criminalized homosexuality.

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