UN urges Uganda president to reject anti-homosexuality bill

UN experts Wednesday implored Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to refuse to sign the anti-homosexuality bill approved by Parliament on March 21. Human rights organizations have criticised the bill, which seeks to penalize homosexual relationships in order to protect the traditional family, as draconian and in violation of basic human rights.

According to experts, the proposed legislation would incentivize stigmatization, discrimination and sexual violence based on sexual orientation. LGBTI people are already vulnerable to intimidation and acts of aggression that can harm their mental and physical health. The experts also emphasized that every human being is entitled to a peaceful life free of violence and discrimination. They urged stakeholders to actively participate in this debate and promote human rights in Uganda.

Under the bill’s original draft, homosexuality and aggravated homosexuality would have been punishable by up to ten years in prison, and the promotion of homosexuality would have been punishable by at least five years in prison. Parliamentarians changed the original draft, however, to suggest the death penalty for homosexuality that is “aggravated,” a life sentence for the “offense of homosexuality,” and a 20-year prison sentence for homosexual promotion. UN experts argued that the “imposition of the death penalty based on such legislation is per se an arbitrary killing and a breach of article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”

The bill is the most recent piece of legislation to criminalize LGBTI acts and relationships in Uganda. Previous bills proposed in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014 were criticized for contributing to human rights violations by infringing on rights such as the right to life, liberty and privacy.