Uganda’s Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Sparks Outrage Due to Discriminatory Measures
The worldwide outcry to Uganda’s new anti-LGBT legislation, enacted by the East African nation’s parliament Tuesday, has been savage.
Widely seen as one of the most extreme forms of antihomosexuality legislation in the world, a draft version of the bill expands existing restrictions and punishments for same-sex activity, criminalizes doing business with LGBT rights groups, and calls for the application of the death penalty in certain cases for gay sex carried out by “serial offenders.”
The bill is awaiting the consent of the country’s long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni, who just last week described gay individuals as “deviations from normal.”
Authorities overseas are appealing to Museveni to rethink. “The adoption of this discriminatory measure – possibly among the worst of its type in the world — is a highly disturbing development,” Volker Turk, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement.
He added: “If the bill is passed into law, it would make homosexual, gay, and bisexual persons in Uganda criminals just for existing, for being who they are. It might grant carte blanche for the systematic violation of practically all of their human rights and help to instigate people against one other.
”The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has spoken this week to Museveni, expressing her “deep concern” over the law, CNN said. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautioned that the law “undermines basic human rights of all Ugandans and might reverse \sgains in the battle against HIV/AIDS.”
At the White House, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said if the law was enacted, it would “have to take a look” at imposing economic sanctions on Uganda, adding that would be “really unfortunate” since the bulk of U.S. aid to the country of nearly 50 million people comes in the form of health assistance.
The irony, however, is that the United States has also played another part in the crisis.
While right-wing Republican lawmakers in various U.S. states are currently engineering a new wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation, a slate of proselytizing, activist U.S. religious groups have for years campaigned in parts of Africa, especially in countries like Uganda, and sown the seeds for even more hard-line measures there.
The passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act by the Parliament of Uganda is highly alarming.
This measure will imperil progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, dissuade tourism and investment in Uganda, and tarnish Uganda’s worldwide image. Human rights are universal.
Uganda is one of at least 67 nations that criminalize same-sex relations. Like other former British colonies in East Africa, it leans on colonial-era regulations that declare that homosexuality is a sin “against the order of nature” and punishable by life imprisonment.
Yet the fanaticism and fervor behind the present law indicate a perceptible hardening of the region’s politics surrounding LGBTQ rights, with experts and rights organizations pointing to a coordinated regional trend of discriminatory rhetoric and political action.
Earlier this month, Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye exhorted his citizens to “curse those who dabble in homosexuality because God cannot abide it” and that the LGBTQ population “must be expelled, regarded as pariahs in our country.”
His words occurred around the same time when 24 persons were accused by local authorities of “homosexual practices” for attending a seminar held by an HIV/AIDS charity group.
In Kenya, leading lawmakers responded with disgust after the country’s Supreme Court recently decided against a petition that attempted to ban activists from forming LGBTQ rights groups.
President William Ruto used the opportunity to underline that Kenya’s laws, whose penal codes still prohibit same-sex encounters and restrict same-sex marriage, had not changed. “It is not conceivable for our nation Kenya to allow same-sex marriages,” he stated.
“It will happen in other nations but not in Kenya.”
According to the Agence France-Presse, administrations in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have also all recently begun campaigns to suppress initiatives to increase knowledge of the LGBTQ population in their nations’ schools.
Tanzanian campaigner Fatma Karume told the Agence France-Presse that authorities are hunting for easy scapegoats at a time when the larger region is racked by economic woes.
“They want to utilize this minority group to distract people,” she told the news agency. The anti-homosexuality measure was approved by @Parliament Ug of Uganda. Organized criminality in e home of our nation is really bad. We will continue to fight this injustice.
This lesbian lady is Ugandan even this piece of paper will stop me from enjoying my country. The battle just begun Uganda’s effort toward disciplining this minority has a long history.
“This is not the first time the government in Uganda has pushed for severe laws against LGBTQ people,” my colleagues Niha Masih and Rael Ombuor stated. “Versions of the measure have been around since 2009, and in 2014, Museveni’s administration enacted similar legislation, whose original form featured the death sentence for HIV-positive persons and for engaging in homosexual sex with a child.
It was finally ruled down by the court for not following appropriate legislative process.” At the time of that previous wave of legislation, rights campaigners pointed to the direct hand of U.S. evangelical groups, many of which trod a well-beaten course across sections of Africa.
In Uganda, in particular, U.S. Christian organizations have committed millions of dollars, to establishing schools and orphanages. But they have also left behind a significant ideological legacy.
In 2020, London-based OpenDemocracy revealed that more than 20 US Christian organizations fighting against LGBTQ rights, safe abortion, access to contraception, and comprehensive sex education have spent at least $54 million promoting their objectives in Africa since 2007.
Nearly to half that sum was spent in conservative, largely Christian Uganda alone, where religious advocates campaign for LGBT “conversion therapy” and trumpet alleged success stories of “ex-gay” persons.
Although anti-LBGTQ views have long existed in nations across the globe, we are witnessing in countries like Uganda the sharp end of a greater right-wing cultural battle over gender rights and identities.
Frank Mugisha, director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a leading LGBTQ rights organization, made the argument in 2014 that political criticism of the “gay agenda, of recruiting people to homosexuality” was not prevalent before 2009, after U.S. evangelical pastor Scott Lively and a group of American colleagues delivered a series of lectures in the country.
Lively is a notable homophobe who popularized the claim in the 1990s that Adolf Hitler and other top Nazi comrades were homosexual, and that their sexual orientation somehow led to the tragedies of the Holocaust.
Lively, in his presentation to Uganda’s parliament, indicated homosexuality was a Western-imported “disease” that might be passed to the country’s youngsters.
“This recasting of homosexuality as analogous to pedophilia, coupled with the widespread usage of similar terminology, is aimed to excuse the reaction and crackdown by governments and institutions,” remarked Caleb Okereke, a Nigerian journalist.
Similar methods are on exhibit in the United States, where, fuelled in part by a mobilization of right-wing religious organizations, Republican politicians are pushing through legislation targeting members of the transgender community, painting them as dishonest “groomers” and pedophilic dangers.
The stakes in Uganda are, for now, considerably greater. No matter the foreign objections, Museveni has huge public support for signing off on the new legislation.
“Ugandans have been radicalized into hatred for Homosexual persons,” Mugisha told a European radio station Wednesday.
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