Uganda waters down anti-gay law

Uganda’s parliament has watered down an anti-homosexuality bill that originally criminalised people for simply identifying as LGBTQ+.

When it was first approved in March, the proposed legislation outraged human rights defenders.

Members of the public were going to have to report individuals in same-sex relationships to the authorities.

An activist told the BBC the debate around the bill had led to fear of more attacks on gay people.

“There is a lot of blackmail. People are receiving calls that ‘if you don’t give me money, I will report that you are gay’,” they said at the time.

Later on, the bill was returned to parliament after President Yoweri Museveni suggested changes. He said the clause penalising people who identify as gay would have led to the prosecution of people simply for their physical appearance.

Same-sex acts have long been illegal in Uganda as a legacy of colonial rule.

Even though this latest version of the bill has been watered down since its first appearance last month, it is still one of the toughest pieces of anti-gay legislation on the continent.

Landlords who knowingly rent premises for homosexual acts risk going to prison for seven years.

The bill still prescribes the death penalty for what it calls aggravated offences – such as child abuse.

And public will also be required to report to the authorities any form of homosexual abuse against children or other vulnerable people.

The bill was passed with an overwhelming majority, with only one MP opposing it. The next step will be for the president to sign it into law.

The draft law has been widely condemned by international human rights groups.

A similar law was struck down by Uganda’s constitutional court in 2014.

Last week, a report found that the UK, EU members and the US had given at least $75m (£60m) in funding to anti-LGBTQ+ groups in Uganda.

“Several of these projects are unexpectedly coded as support for women’s rights and say they are focused on gender equality,” said researchers for the the Institute for Journalism and Social Change

by Patience Atuhaire – BBC News, Kampala
Source – BBC News