With Pride Month here, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which is widely regarded as the most regressive Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the world. The Act was enacted under the pretense of ‘protecting the sanctity of the family’ and defending culture, values and aspirations of the people. The bill is so cruel that it was even criticized by conservative Ted Cruz, who has previously been against same-sex marriages. He called the bill “horrific” and “wrong” and further tweeted, “This Uganda law is horrific & wrong. Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is grotesque & an abomination.”
The severely damaging aspects of the bill have been covered extensively in the media, and while the present version has been toned down, it still prevents queer people from living a life by denying them housing, education, and employment among other aspects. It is an attempt at genocide of queer people, erasure of any health provisions for people living with HIV/AIDS, all the while rewarding queerphobic people. In simple terms, the law of the land can sentence people to the capital punishment for their sexuality in certain ways. Ever since the introduction of the bill, violence against queer people in Uganda has been on the rise. The provisions criminalize queer people, queer organizations, allies, media of queer nature, and certain acts codified as ‘aggravated homosexuality, ‘ which carry the strictest punishment of death penalty.
In response amid outrage against the act, a join statement has been issued by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), emphasizing that Uganda has played a crucial role in the fight against ending the AIDS epidemic, and the bill that has been passed raises concerns about its impact on the health of its citizens and also the response to HIV/AIDS. The President of the United States, Joe Biden has also released a statement labeling the act a tragic violation of human rights as the U.S. is considering sanctions for US visas against Ugandan officials and those involved with abuse of human rights.
While some leaders have released statements, there has been no cemented action or any voice from corporates who will change their logos to incorporate the rainbow starting June 1st for celebrating pride. Especially at a time when the Supreme Court in India has reserved its judgment on the validity of same-sex unions, this is a troubling development.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act is deeply concerning, being one one of the many laws that target queer people in a year that is seeing record-high anti-queer/trans bills. It will have a devastating impact on queer people, violating their fundamental rights and severing access to treatment for HIV/AIDS.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act can be accessed here.