Ugandan authorities have adopted a law on punishments for same-sex relationships. He is one of the toughest in the world. The death penalty is provided for repeated homosexual acts, as well as for the transmission of HIV infection. “Propagating homosexuality” can result in up to 20 years in prison.
Uganda’s parliament drafted the bill in March. This Monday it was signed by the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni. Same-sex relationships were outlawed in Uganda earlier, as well as in more than 30 African countries. The new law significantly stiffens the punishments.
The USA – one of Uganda’s main trading partners – warned back in March about the possibility of economic sanctions if the law is passed. Also, Uganda annually receives billions of dollars in economic aid from developed countries, which can also be reduced.
Human rights activists in Uganda and around the world condemned the law as discriminatory. Claire Byarugaba, coordinator of the Coalition of Civil Society for Human Rights in Uganda, wrote: “Today, the president of Uganda legalized state homophobia. This is a black day. We will continue to fight this legalized atrocity.”
The UN Human Rights Office said: “We are appalled by the draconian and discriminatory law. This is a ready-made recipe for systemic violations of the rights of both LGBT people and the general population. It contradicts the Constitution and international agreements and requires an immediate legal review.”
Special concern was expressed by international organizations engaged in health protection and prevention of HIV infection. According to them, after the adoption of the law, sexual education in the country may be significantly curtailed, and homosexuals will be afraid to be tested for HIV and receive treatment if it is present, which will lead to the uncontrolled spread of the infection.
The three largest funds working in African countries – the PEPFAR initiative, the Global Fund to Fight HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis, and UNAIDS – published a joint statement. In it, experts point out that LGBT+ discrimination has already led to the fact that patients are afraid to seek help, and the adoption of the new law is a direct threat to public health.
- Uganda is currently one of the leaders in the fight against HIV infection. By 2021, 89% of the country’s population knew their HIV status, more than 92% of HIV-positive people received treatment, and 95% of them had the virus suppressed, which makes them non-contagious to others. These successes were largely achieved thanks to the activities of international funds in the field of treatment, testing and sexual education.