By Kevin Zhang
Ugandan lawmakers have passed a bill prescribing jail time of up to 10 years for offenses related to same-sex relations. The bill is supported by popular opinion in Uganda but effectively completely outcasts the East African country’s LGBTQ community.
The bill was passed late on Tuesday after a packed parliamentary chamber session, and after a roll call ordered by the House Speaker, who had repeatedly warned that it was necessary to identify those who might oppose the bill. The bill was supported by 380 of the 389 legislators present.
“Congratulations. Whatever we are doing, we are doing it for the people of Uganda.” said Speaker Anita Among.
An earlier version of the bill had been enacted in 2014, but was later nullified by a court on procedural grounds. Human Rights Watch has described the new legislation as a “more egregious version” of the law passed in 2014, which drew widespread international concern and was struck down after Uganda faced pressure from its development partners.
The bill now must go through President Yoweri Museveni, who can choose to either veto or sign the bill into law. He suggested in a recent bill that he supports the bill, and recently has accused unnamed Western nations of “trying to impose their practices on other people.”
The bill was introduced last month by an opposition lawmaker who said that his goal was to punish “promotion, recruitment and funding” related to the LGBTQ community. His bill creates a crime of “aggravated homosexuality”, which applies in cases of sex relations involving those infected with HIV, minors, and other categories of vulnerable people. The offense of “attempted homosexuality” is also punishable with up to 10 years in prison.
Same-sex activity is already punishable with life imprisonment under a colonial-era law aimed against “carnal knowledge against the order of nature”.