Ugandan lawmakers began a new session on Thursday introducing an anti-gay law that would allow LGBT people to be jailed for up to 10 years if they reveal their identities or touch on their homosexual intentions.
The text of the draft law states that it aims to “protect the culture dear to the hearts of the people of Uganda and their traditional family values from “the actions of sexual rights activists who seek to impose their own values of sexual promiscuity on the people.”
Anita Among, Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, explained why the country needs the law.
Legislator Asuman Basalirwa read out the bill’s objectives: “Criminalization of homosexuality, with a liability of imprisonment of two to ten years, for committing homosexuality, aggravated homosexuality, attempted homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuality, conspiracy to commit homosexuality and related practices.”
In 2019, Eric Ndawula, executive director of the Lifeline Youth Empowerment Center, an organization for lesbian, bisexual, and queer men, was exposed after a police raid on an animal shelter.
Speaking to VOA, Ndawula said his family called him abnormal and a disgrace to society and forced him to lead a double life. Since then, he said, one gay man in Uganda has experienced resilience and defiance.
Nadawlah described the bill as absurd and disturbing, but not surprising.
“Our community is lacking some information especially in regards to understanding the nuances that come with being queer, being LGBT,” he said. “People don’t become gay at 18. Because at the end of the day, when you look at the bill, it’s just regulating how we are having sex. The moment that you come out and speak that you’re gay, you’re reduced to a sexual being.”
In a statement following the introduction of the bill, human rights group Human Rights Watch said the law, if passed, would violate fundamental rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and association, privacy, equality and non-discrimination.
Human Rights Watch researcher Oryem Nikko told VOA that while the law does not provide for the death penalty, as was the case with a similar anti-gay law passed in 2013 but later repealed, no one should be jailed, because he is threatened with punishment. Having consensual sex with an adult.
Nikko said the criminalization of homosexual behavior in Uganda will continue to have far-reaching effects.