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Death Penalty: Strict anti-Gay Bill Passed in Uganda

Amendments to an increasingly stringent anti-homosexuality bill was passed in Uganda on Tuesday. It was condemned by human rights groups and activists, and showed that it would include the death penalty. As per the bill, the death penalty could be put in action in cases involving “aggravated homosexuality” which is a broad term in the legislation used to describe sexual acts committed without consent or under coercion, against children, and people with mental or physical disabilities, by a “serial offender.” Other amendments to the bill include raising the penalty for those considered LGBTQI+ from 10 to 20 years. Confirmed involvement in same-sex relations carries a penalty of 14 years in prison, providing premises for the provision of same-sex services will be punished with 10 years in prison, and parents who allow their children to engage in same-sex relations may face up to three years in prison.

The United Nations, Amnesty International, Washington and London called on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday to reject and harshly criticized the law against homosexuality adopted the day before by Parliament. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called on the Ugandan president, by imploring him and declaring that this law is a discriminatory text even dubbing it the worst in the world of its kind.

 Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty's director for East and Southern Africa, said in a statement that this law is vaguely worded and criminalizes even the homosexuality activist. Internal opposition was also present, Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, an elected member of the National Resistance Movement, President Museveni's party, took a stand against the proposed bill. The deputy said that according to the final version, offenders risk a life sentence or even the death penalty for aggravated offenses.

The White House has warned the country of economic sanctions if the law comes into being. Financial consequences ``would be really unfortunate, because so much of the economic assistance that we provide Uganda is health assistance and largely through PEPFAR.," said John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council.

On Twitter, Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, also criticized the adoption of the law. Saying on his Twitter account that it goes against the basic rights of the Ugandan people and that it would have an effect on the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Debates in parliament have been peppered with a homophobic rhetoric, with Mr. Museveni himself referring last week to homosexuals as “deviant” people. However, the 78-year-old leader has often felt that the subject was not a priority for him and he preferred to maintain good relations with his Western investors and donors.

Uganda has a stringent anti-homosexuality legislation — an unfortunate legacy of colonial laws — but since its independence from the United Kingdom in 1962, there have been no prosecutions for consensual homosexual acts. Yet the general sentiment among the population remains divided with a considerable amount of people very much in support of these amendments and anti-LGBTQI

In 2014, the Ugandan Supreme court blocked a bill, approved by MPs and signed by President Museveni, that would have made same-sex relations punishable by life in prison. This text had caused an outcry beyond Ugandan borders, some rich countries having suspended their aid after its presentation to Parliament.

 Edited by : Ritaja Kar

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