Right Livelihood's Advocacy Officer Fedora Bernard making a statement at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, on June 22, 2023.

Uganda must repeal its new anti-LGBTIQ+ law, which forces Ugandans back into the closet

News 22.06.2023

The international community must rally behind Ugandan LGBTIQ+ people and urge the country’s government to repeal its latest anti-homosexuality law, which prescribes a life sentence for the crime of “homosexuality” – applicable to all sexually and gender diverse persons – and even the death penalty in certain cases, Right Livelihood told the 53rd sessions of the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

Read our full statement here

The law, which was signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on May 26, 2023, means that LGBTIQ+ Ugandans are now forced back into the closet and are subject to even higher levels of torture and violence than before. The law also means that LGBTIQ+ people are not able to access essential health services and are forced to flee to neighbouring countries.

This law is the embodiment of the homophobic climate that Ugandan lawmakers have been nourishing for years, under the false premise of protecting African traditional family values. The senator who introduced the law claimed that homosexuality was “a cancer eating up the world and a human wrong that needs to be addressed through legislation.”

Also of concern is that Uganda is not done yet – it is now trying to inspire and embolden lawmakers in other countries in the region to put forward similar laws, including in Kenya and Malawi, we warned. In fact, in May, Kampala convened the first “Africa Interparliamentary Conference on Family Values” for this very reason.

The international community cannot be a bystander to such blatant disregard for human rights.

The Council must openly and strongly condemn Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act and urge the government to immediately repeal this law and abide by its international human rights obligations towards sexual minorities. Uganda must also take measures to erase homophobia and transphobia from society through education and cooperation with religious leaders.

During the session, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, recounted that it was bone-chilling to hear the Ugandan Speaker of the House say that adopting legislation that imposes the death penalty was in defence of Christian values. Madrigal-Borloz stressed that states must condemn all wrongful use of religious beliefs as an excuse for violence or discriminatory denial of LGBTIQ+ persons’ human rights.

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