(Last Updated on March 23, 2023 by ZIMDAILY EDITOR)
KAMPALA – The parliament of Uganda, Tuesday passed a new bill that will see gays get life prison sentences.
The bill also includes the death penalty in some instances.
A rights activist told the BBC the debate around the bill had led to fear of more attacks on gay people.
“There is a lot of blackmail. People are receiving calls that ‘if you don’t give me money, I will report that you are gay,’” they said.
The bill is one of the toughest pieces of anti-gay legislation in Africa.
Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda but this bill introduces many new criminal offences.
As well as making merely identifying as gay illegal for the first time, friends, family and members of the community would have a duty to report individuals in same-sex relationships to the authorities.
It was passed with widespread support in Uganda’s parliament on Tuesday evening.
Amnesty International has called the bill, which criminalises same-sex between consenting adults “appalling”, “ambiguous” and “vaguely worded”.
“This deeply repressive legislation will institutionalise discrimination, hatred, and prejudice against LGBTI people – including those who are perceived to be LGBTI – and block the legitimate work of civil society, public health professionals, and community leaders,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa.
It has also been condemned by both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the UK’s Africa Minister Andrew Mitchell.
In the weeks before the debate, anti-homosexual sentiment was prominent in the media, an activist who wanted to remain anonymous told the BBC.
“Members of the queer community have been blackmailed, extorted for money or even lured into traps for mob attacks,” the activist said.
“In some areas even law enforcers are using the current environment to extort money from people who they accuse of being gay. Even some families are reporting their own children to the police.”