In defiance of Western condemnations and prospective aid donor punishments, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed one of the most anti-LGBTQ laws in the world, which includes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”.
Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, was urged by the UN human rights chief in March to veto a bill that was passed this week that is anti-LGBTQ and imposes severe punishments, including the death penalty and life in jail.
Volker Turk, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, issued a statement in which he described the passage of the discriminatory bill as “a deeply troubling development” and likely among the worst of its kind in the world.
Ugandan rights activist Clare Byarugaba, however, claimed that “the president of Uganda has today legalized state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia.
“It’s a very dark and sad day for the LGBTQ community, our allies, and all of Uganda.” She and other activists pledged to file a lawsuit against the bill, which Museveni was shown signing with a golden pen at his desk in a picture tweeted by the Ugandan government.
The 78-year-old leader referred to homosexuality as a “deviation from normal” and exhorted legislators to rebuff “imperialist” pressure.
The bill was approved by Uganda’s legislature late on Tuesday after a drawn-out plenary meeting in which last-minute amendments were made to the law, which had previously called for jail terms of up to 10 years for gay conduct.
According to the MPs’ authorized version, the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” — a general phrase that refers to same-sex acts with minors, individuals with impairments, serial offenders, or those who have HIV — now carries the death penalty. Both adolescents and people with HIV are considered to be engaging in aggravated homosexual behavior.
The bill stipulates that the maximum sentence for someone found guilty of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” is 14 years in prison and that the maximum sentence for someone found guilty of “attempted homosexuality” is 10 years.
The U.S. would “have to take a look” at placing economic sanctions on Uganda, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby in Washington, if the measure were to become law. This, he said, would be “really unfortunate” as the majority of American help is given in the form of healthcare, particularly anti-AIDS care.