Update (May 30):
On May 29, 2023, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law one of the most extreme pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the world. The Anti-Homosexuality Act imperils the lives and livelihoods of LGBTQ+ Ugandans—and endangers the courageous human rights defenders who protect and promote their rights.
The Fund joins unequivocally with others around the world to condemn this cruel law and demand its immediate repeal. We will continue supporting the LGBTQ+ activists and allies in Uganda who are saving lives on the front lines of this unthinkable crisis.
Statement (April 25):
The Fund for Global Human Rights is outraged by Uganda’s proposed anti-LGBTQ+ bill and urges President Yoweri Museveni to swiftly reject it.
In March, the Ugandan Parliament passed the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill—the culmination of a yearslong effort funded by U.S. evangelical groups to codify persecution of Uganda’s LGBTQ+ community. This draconian draft law, currently under revision, would be one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ+ measures anywhere in the world.
If approved, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would entrench and expand the criminalization of same-sex conduct in Uganda. Under the law’s severe sentencing guidelines, adults found guilty of promoting, attempting to engage in, or engaging in consensual same-sex conduct would face lengthy prison sentences of 10 years to life. It would also levy prison time or a fine on people who fail to report others for violating the law. People found guilty of engaging in what the lawmakers term “aggravated homosexuality”—acts involving members of at-risk groups, including people who are HIV positive—would face the death penalty.
The portion of the bill that criminalizes speech related to LGBTQ+ rights would imperil the lives of the brave activists, advocates, and human rights defenders who support Uganda’s persecuted LGBTQ+ community. Under the law, LGBTQ+ advocacy would be punished with up to 20 years in prison. Uganda’s HIV response would also be devastated—lifesaving public health services would be criminalized, and frontline healthcare providers would face time in prison for their essential work.
It could also inspire a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Lawmakers from more than a dozen other countries in Africa—including Kenya, Zambia, and Ghana—have already pledged to pass similar measures. And more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced this year alone across the United States, many of which target activists, educators, and healthcare providers.
This reflects a disturbing global trend, as LGBTQ+ rights activists endure harassment, surveillance, detention, and harm around the world. For people facing widespread discrimination and marginalization, local grassroots activists play an essential role in protecting and promoting their rights, providing lifesaving services, and fighting for a fairer future. The criminalization of LGBTQ+ activism has a chilling effect on all parts of civic space—the bedrock of democratic societies.
If approved, this law would grievously violate the human rights of LGBTQ+ people in Uganda, endanger the critical work of local activists, and destroy countless lives. Already, the New York Times reports, LGBTQ+ Ugandans are fleeing the country. The harm caused by this heinous law would be incalculable and inhumane.
David Mattingly, the Fund’s vice president for programs, says:
On this Global Day of Action, we stand in solidarity with civil society organizations in Uganda and around the world who are collectively calling on President Museveni to veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. We urge Ugandan lawmakers to protect LGBTQ+ rights and lives by rejecting this hateful legislation.
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