President of Uganda Signs Law with Imprisonment or Death Penalty for Homosexuality

Despite international pressure, Uganda is implementing one of the strictest anti-LGBT+ laws in the world. The president had attempted to persuade parliament to soften the law, but without success. Homosexuality is punished with a lifelong prison sentence, while individuals who are HIV-positive and engage in same-sex activities are subject to the death penalty.
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Ugandan LGBT+ activist Frank Mugisha described it as "a deeply sad day for the Ugandan queer community."

The law had been in the pipeline for some time. In March, parliament passed a proposal that the president then sent back with a request to slightly soften it. Western governments warned Uganda that implementing the law would have consequences for the financial aid to the country. The parliament's chairperson described the law as a resistance against Western values, stating that the West would destroy the "standards of decency" in her country. In the watered-down version, it is no longer a crime to identify as an LGBT+ person, but the most severe aspects remain intact. Engaging in same-sex activities is now punishable by life imprisonment. The death penalty will be imposed for engaging in same-sex activities with a minor, as well as for HIV-positive individuals who have same-sex relations.

The law has sparked outrage in Western countries. Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, says that the EU "regrets" the law and considers it a violation of international law. US President Joe Biden calls it a "tragic violation of human rights." The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs is "deeply disappointed," and the British government also expresses disappointment.

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher, has already announced that support to Uganda in the area of law enforcement will be discontinued. Joe Biden is investigating the implications of the law for US-Uganda relations.

Homosexuality is a major taboo in Uganda. In addition to the ban, LGBT+ individuals systematically face repression and humiliation. In 2019, a minister even suggested implementing the death penalty for homosexuality. The president views homosexuality as a "deviation," and parliamentarians have called for the castration of homosexuals.

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