Uganda’s president signed into law a sweeping anti-gay bill Monday that includes the death penalty, leading to calls from human rights activists and politicians across the world to repeal the law.
What’s in Uganda’s new anti-gay law?
The Anti-Homosexuality Act is “among the harshest anti-LGBTQ laws in the world,” BBC News reported, with sentences of life in prison for those who engage in same-sex relations.
Even people suspected of so-called “attempted homosexuality,” could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Meanwhile, the law also prohibits the “promotion of homosexuality” and “targets persons seen as aiding and abetting homosexuality,” according to Axios.
The law also calls for the death penalty for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” which the law defines as same-sex relations between children, disabled people or someone who is unconscious, per The New York Times. “Attempted aggravated homosexuality,” on the other hand, carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
An earlier version of the bill did not differentiate between people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community and those who engage in same-sex relations — meaning individuals could be punished simply for identifying as LGTBQ, The Associated Press reported. However, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni returned the bill to the Ugandan national assembly in April and asked for those distinctions to be made in the version of the bill that he signed.
Same-sex activity was already illegal and could lead to life imprisonment in Uganda since 1950 under British colonial rule, but the law was rarely prosecuted, according to The Washington Post.
Here’s a look at how politicians across the world have reacted to Uganda’s anti-gay law:
In a statement posted to Twitter after Museveni signed the bill into law, Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker Anita Among encouraged the “duty bearers under the law to execute the mandate bestowed upon them in the Anti-Homosexuality Act.”
“The people of Uganda have spoken,” she stated.
On Monday, the White House released a statement from President Joe Biden in which he called for the the “immediate repeal” of the law, calling it a “tragic violation of universal human rights.”
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also condemned the law, stating that the Department of State “will develop mechanisms to support the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals in Uganda and to promote accountability for Ugandan officials and other individuals responsible for, or complicit in, abusing their human rights.”
Blinken also directed the State Department to “consider deploying existing visa restrictions tools against Ugandan officials and other individuals for abuse of universal human rights, including the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons,” a statement reads.
Several members of Congress also called for the law to be repealed, including, notably, Texas Republican Ted Cruz who called the law “horrific & wrong,” in a tweet Monday.
“Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is grotesque & an abomination,” he wrote. “ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse.”
This Uganda law is horrific & wrong.
Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is grotesque & an abomination.
ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse.#LGBTQ https://t.co/tTIMR8VtqW
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 29, 2023
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “strongly condemned” the Uganda law, calling it “appalling and abhorrent.”
“We’ll continue to stand with 2SLGBTQI+ people – and stand up for 2SLGBTQI+ rights – at home and abroad,” he tweeted.
Uganda’s President has signed this anti-gay legislation into law. Canada’s stance has not changed: This law is appalling and abhorrent, and we strongly condemn it. We’ll continue to stand with 2SLGBTQI+ people – and stand up for 2SLGBTQI+ rights – at home and abroad. https://t.co/NTYkoCPVE4
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 29, 2023
Andrew Mitchell, the minister for development and Africa, released a statement Monday, in response to Uganda’s anti-gay law.
“The UK Government is appalled that the Government of Uganda has signed the deeply discriminatory Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 into law,” the statement reads. “.... The UK is firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances.”