International News

United Nations rights experts condemn Uganda’s ‘egregious’ anti-LGBTQ+ legislation

Graham Robson March 30, 2023

United Nations (UN) rights experts have condemned Uganda’s ‘egregious’ anti-LGBTQ+ legislation after all but two of the country’s 389 MPs passed a controversial anti-LGBTQ+ bill, which introduces capital and life imprisonment sentences for gay sex and the “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities”.

“The imposition of the death penalty based on such legislation is per se an arbitrary killing and a breach of article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” the experts said, noting that Ugandan politicians had been made aware of this on previous occasions in recent years.

The anti-LGBTQ+ laws approved by a majority of MPs last week, target and jeopardise the rights of LGBTQ+ persons and those who support and defend their human rights, the experts noted.

‘Serial homosexuality’

“The imposition of the death penalty for same-sex intimacy – including so-called ‘serial homosexuality’ – is an egregious violation of human rights,” the UN experts said.

They warned that the new legislation would exacerbate and legitimise continued stigmatisation, violence, harassment, and discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons.

Living in constant fear

“LGBTI persons will constantly live in fear and stress for their life and physical integrity for simply living according to their sexual orientation,” the experts said, highlighting that there are serious mental health-associated risks beyond the violence and threats.

“Culture can never be a justification for such flagrant violations of human rights,” the experts said. They recalled the obligation of all of society – from politics, to business, to civil society, to promote social inclusion and contribute to stopping human rights abuses.

Long record of discrimination

The latest anti-LGBTQ+ legislation comes after years of State-instigated and perpetuated discrimination against the community, said the experts.

The noted that they have repeatedly raised serious concerns about escalating risks to the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons in Uganda during the last 15 years, including when other iterations of so-called “anti-homosexuality” laws were proposed in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

In all cases, the draft bills were assessed as potentially leading to immediate violations to a substantial range of human rights.

“The new law is no exception and forms part of a worrying trend of intolerance, exacerbating stigma against LGBTI persons without any grounds or evidence,” they said.

Appeal to President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni

“We urge the President of Uganda to tread a new path towards respect of human rights and acceptance of difference, and reject the proposed law,” the experts’ statement concluded.