A man in Uganda has been slapped with a charge of “aggravated homosexuality,” a crime that could lead to the death penalty under the country’s new, contentious anti-gay law, a government spokesperson revealed on Monday.
This law, viewed as one of the strictest globally, makes “aggravated homosexuality” a death penalty offense. It also sets harsh punishments for consensual gay relationships, including life imprisonment.
The accused guy “was charged in Soroti [in eastern Uganda] and he is on remand in prison. He will be appearing in court for mention of the case,” said Jacquelyn Okui, who speaks for Uganda’s public prosecutions office.
The official charge sheet, glimpsed by AFP, says the 20-year-old man was accused on August 18 of illegal sexual acts with a 41-year-old man.
The sheet noted the offense as “aggravated homosexuality” under the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023.
Okui confessed to AFP she’s not certain if this marks the first time someone in Uganda has faced this charge under the updated law.
This severe law, inked in May, has faced fierce backlash from the UN, countries like the U.S., and human rights groups worldwide.
Anita Among, the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament, stated that President Yoweri Museveni had followed the constitution when he gave the green light to this Anti-Homosexuality Act. She urged law enforcement to apply the law “consistently and firmly.”
Recently, the World Bank put the brakes on any new loans to Uganda. They stated that the law flies in the face of the lender’s core values, based in the U.S.
Back in May, U.S. President Biden blasted the law as a “a tragic violation of universal human rights” warning of potential cuts in aid and investment to Uganda.
Despite the backlash, the government’s digging in its heels. The new law has a lot of fans in this mainly Christian nation. Lawmakers say the law protects the country from what they see as bad Western influences.
Museveni’s fired back at the World Bank, saying they’re using cash to push Uganda to ditch the law.
Being gay’s already against the law in over 30 African countries. People fighting for LGBTQ rights worry that Uganda’s new law might make nearby countries like Kenya think about making their own laws even tougher.
Being gay was already a no-go in Uganda, but folks say this new law is way worse. It’s making a lot of gay people in Uganda really scared. Some are even leaving the country or going into hiding.
Adrian Jjuuko, a big cheese at the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, said they’ve counted 17 people getting arrested in June and July since the law kicked in.
Just this month, the cops nabbed four people, including two women, at a massage place in the east. Someone tipped them off that the folks there might be involved in gay stuff.