More than 30 African countries, including Uganda, already ban same-sex relations (Picture: AFP)
A bill was passed in Uganda that would put people in jail for up to 10 years for merely identifying as LGBTQ+.
Applause erupted in the Parliament building in Kampala as lawmakers approved the new legislation.
It gives authorities broad powers to target gay Ugandans who already face legal discrimination and mob violence.
More than 30 African countries, including Uganda, already ban same-sex relations.
But Human Rights Watch warned this appears to be the first to outlaw identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.
The 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill confirms an already existing punishment of life in prison for same-sex conduct, while also increasing to 10 years the sentence for an attempt at same-sex conduct.
Violations draw severe penalties, including death for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ and life in prison for gay sex.
‘Aggravated homosexuality’ involves gay sex with people under the age of 18 or when the perpetrator is HIV positive, among other categories, according to the law.
People holding rainbow flags take part in the Gay Pride parade in Entebbe on August 8, 2015 (Picture: AFP)
It also creates new offences that will further curtail any activism on LGBTQ+ rights, which supporters say threaten traditional values in the conservative and religious nation.
Anyone advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, or financially supporting organisations that do so, could face up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
The bill also criminalises any person who fails to report someone they suspect of participating in same-sex acts to the police, calling for a fine or imprisonment for six months.
Effectively, this targets families or friends of LGBTQ+ people failing to report their loved ones.
Member of Parliament from Bubulo contituency, John Musira, dressed in an anti-gay gown (Picture: Reuters)
‘Our creator God is happy [about] what is happening. I support the bill to protect the future of our children,’ lawmaker David Bahati said during a debate on the bill.
‘This is about the sovereignty of our nation, nobody should blackmail us, nobody should intimidate us.’
The legislation will be sent to president Yoweri Museveni to be signed into law.
Frank Mugisha, a prominent Ugandan LGBTQ+ activist denounced the legislation as ‘very extreme and draconian’.
‘It criminalises being an LGBTQ+ person. They are also trying to erase the entire existence of any LGBTQ+ Ugandan,’ he warned.
President Museveni has not commented on the current proposal but he has long opposed LGBTQ+ rights.
But in 2013 he signed an anti-LGBTQ law that was widely condemned by Western countries before a domestic court struck it down on procedural grounds.
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‘They are trying to erase the entire existence of any LGBTQ+ Ugandan.’