The so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill, introduced to Uganda’s parliament on Thursday, seeks to ban all forms of homosexual relations, as well as vaguely described “related matters.”
Under the legislation, introduced by Member of Parliament Asuman Basalirwa, individuals convicted of the “offense of homosexuality” would face 10 years in prison. Notably, this offense includes not only sexual relations but also the “[touching] of another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality,” or one’s identification as “lesbian, gay, transgender, a queer or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female.”
The bill also seeks to treat HIV-positive status as an aggravating offense, and to subject suspects to forced testing for the virus.
In addition, the legislation seeks to criminalize a range of related “offenses.” Anyone who “aids, abets, or counsels” with respect to homosexuality would face two years in prison — a clause that would appear to seek the criminalization of relationship advice. And anyone who seeks to facilitate a same-sex marriage would face 10 years in prison.
If passed, the law would also ban the “promotion of homosexuality,” an “offense” covering a vast swath of amorphously described activities, such as sponsoring “homosexuality or other related activities” or using the internet to “promote homosexuality.”
The bill provoked the immediate ire of human rights activists.
Oryem Nyeko, Uganda researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalizes people simply for being who they are as well as further infringing on the rights to privacy, and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda … Ugandan politicians should focus on passing laws that protect vulnerable minorities and affirm fundamental rights and stop targeting LGBT people for political capital.”
In 2014, a previous iteration of the act — which sought to impose life sentences for homosexual acts — was rejected by Uganda’s Constitutional Court.