Uganda recently passed the so-called Sexual Offences Bill which implements harsher punishments for those engaging in consensual same-sex relations. According to the Human Rights Watch, the bill punishes any “sexual act between persons of the same gender” with up to 10 years in prison. LGBTQ+ citizens will be at risk of prosecution even if they are not in Uganda at the time.
Although the bill serves some positive purposes, such as legally protecting sexual assault surviours, it violates international human rights laws by criminalising consensual LGBTQ+ relations. Mausi Segun, the Human Rights Watch’s Africa director, said: “Ugandan lawmakers should focus on ending endemic sexual violence rather than seeing this as an opportunity to imbed abusive provisions that criminalize the sex lives of consenting adults.”
Uganda has seen increasing hostility towards LGBTQ+ citizens since the re-election of president Yoweri Museveni earlier this year, who previously referred to queer people as “deviants”. Although same-sex relations were already illegal in the country, the new bill further limits the rights of LGBTQ+ Ugandans.