On Tuesday, the Ugandan parliament voted unanimously to pass sweeping anti-gay laws that could make it harder to be with someone of the same gender. The vote came after a very heated and chaotic session. After the final vote, the Speaker of the Parliament, Annet Anita Among, announced that “the ayes have it,” and she went on to say that the “bill passed in record time.”
In a country where homosexuality is already against the law, Uganda’s parliament was scheduled to vote on anti-gay legislation on Tuesday. The bill suggests harsher new penalties for same-sex relationships than are currently in place. In the religiously conservative nation of East Africa, anyone who participates in same-sex activity or who openly identifies as LGBTQ could face a maximum prison sentence of ten years under the new legislation that is being proposed.
According to Robina Rwakoojo, chair of the legal and parliamentary affairs committee, which has been studying the legislation, “the anti-homosexuality bill is ready and will be tabled (put) before Parliament for a vote this afternoon.” The committee has been studying the legislation. After years of President Yoweri Museveni becoming more and more dictatorial, the people of Uganda are overwhelmingly in favor of the law, and civil society hasn’t said much about it. This is in contrast to the widespread support the legislation has received.
Even so, Museveni has said many times that he does not think this is the most important thing and that he would rather keep good relationships with Western investors and funders. There has been a lot of homophobic talk about the bill in parliament. Just last week, President Museveni called gay people “these deviants” during one of these discussions.
“Homosexuals are considered abnormal deviations from the standard. Why? Is it due to genetics or upbringing? We need to find answers to these questions,” the elderly man of 78 years informed the legislators. “We require a professional medical judgment on that matter. We will go into great detail about it,” he added, in a move that analysts and officials from other countries interpreted as a stalling technique on his part.
“His suggestion to ask for a medical opinion can be understood in this context: as a way to put off what is a deeply contentious political issue,” Titeca said. “This is a way to put off what is a deeply contentious political issue.” The Attorney General of Uganda, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, told a Saturday committee of parliamentarians who are looking at the bill that the rules from the colonial era that are still in place “adequately provided for an offense.”
A congressman named Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, who is a member of Museveni’s National Resistance Movement party, pleaded with his colleagues to vote against passing the law as the parliament was getting started. Some members of parliament kept trying to shout over him as he said that the bill “contains provisions that are against the constitution, reverses the progress made in the fight against gender-based violence, and criminalizes people instead of actions that break the law.” He added that the bill “criminalizes individuals instead of conduct that contravenes legal provisions.”
“It was passed at a time when anti-homosexual feelings were being stirred up all over the country, and there is no evidence that homosexuality has gotten worse and needs more government intervention,” he said. “It was introduced during a time when anti-homosexual sentiments have been whipped up across the country.” In the past few months, conspiracy theories on Ugandan social media sites that say unknown international powers are pushing homosexuality have become more popular. These theories claim that homosexuality is being promoted by these international powers.
Frank Mugisha, the head of a well-known gay rights group in Uganda called Sexual Minorities Uganda, whose operations were stopped by the government last year, said earlier this month that he had already gotten a lot of calls from LGBTQ people about the new bill. Sexual Minorities Uganda’s operations were suspended by the authorities last year.
He stated that people in the community were living in dread of one another. The police announced a week ago that they had arrested six males in the lakeside town of Jinja, located in the south of Uganda, for “practicing homosexuality.” According to the authorities, six additional men were taken into custody on Sunday and charged with the same crime. Uganda is well-known for its intolerance of homosexuality, which is a crime according to laws that date back to the colonial period. But since 1962, when the country got its independence from the United Kingdom, no one has been convicted of having same-sex sexual relations with another adult who agreed to them.
In 2014, Ugandan lawmakers approved a measure that called for individuals caught engaging in homosexual sexual activity to be sentenced to life in prison.
The law was criticized by people all over the world, and as a result, some Western countries stopped or changed tens of millions of dollars’ worth of government aid. However, the law was eventually struck down by a court due to a technicality.