On 24 February, the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the controversial anti-homosexuality bill into law. This is a disaster for the rights of Ugandan gays and lesbians. Thanks to the new law, LGBT people now risk life imprisonment if they are caught performing “homosexual acts.”
Since the Uganda adopted the controversial law on December 20, 2013, activists around the world using #stopAHB have called upon Museveni to send the bill back to parliament unsigned. The president was prepared not to sign the bill if scientists could prove that homosexuality is not a choice, but innate. But since the scientists he relied upon, according to Museveni, failed in this endeavour, he went ahead and approved the law on February 24.
Although local LGBT activists will not give up their fight against the new law, they still run major risks because of its adoption. Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda before 24 February, but the new law also threatens to ban organisations that are perceived to ‘promote’ homosexuality, which can mean various sorts of activities, depending on how they are interpreted. This represents a major threat to the rule of law.
Hivos fears the adoption of this law by Museveni will unleash a veritable witch-hunt on the Ugandan LGBT community. In recent years, Uganda has been the scene of a series of violent incidents against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people fuelled by religious conservatism and social disapproval.
Hivos will continue to strongly support the local LGBT community in fighting against this law. The legal battle has already begun, with human rights organisations looking to contest all elements of the law that are contrary to the Constitution, such as violations of the right to privacy, equality, respect for private life and freedom of expression.