Parliament of Uganda Passes “Sexual Offences Bill” Enhancing Criminalization of Same-Sex Relations

The Sexual Offences Bill reinforces a ban in the country on same-sex relations.

News Politics Triston Brewer

This article was published on May 27th, 2021

The Ugandan Parliament recently passed the Sexual Offences Bill that was introduced in 2019, a legislative act aimed at preventing sexual violence, enhancing punishment against sexual offenders, and providing additional protection for victims. Additionally, it also reinforces and reiterates a ban on same-sex relations codified in the country’s penal code.

Since British colonial times, same-sex relations in Uganda have been criminalized in sections 145 on “unnatural offenses” and 148 on “indecent practices” of the penal code, with a maximum sentence of life in prison. Clause 11 of the Sexual Offences Bill further confirms this existing status. The Executive Director of Outright Action International, Jessica Stern, commented on the Ugandan bill:

“Same-sex relations are already criminalized in Uganda’s Penal Code. The inclusion of same-sex relations in this Bill paints LGBTQ people as sexual offenders and can only serve one purpose – to fuel already rampant LGBTQ-phobia, discrimination and violence. It is deplorable. The colonial legacy of criminalizing same-sex relations must end.”

There are advocacy groups in Uganda that are rallying together to confront the impending bill, and Sexual Minorities Uganda – a network of LGBTQ organizations in the region stated:

“The Bill will enhance the already homophobic environment in Uganda and lead the way for further violation of the rights of sexual and gender minorities, including violations such as “corrective rape” and other acts of violence. Clause 11 also goes against the very essence of the Bill to protect Ugandans from sexual violence.”

The bill is now set to be presented before Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, a leader who has publicly expressed anti-LGBTQ views, most recently before the general election in January 2021, blaming pre-election violence on foreign LGBTQ groups.

The Sexual Offences Bill is not the first effort of its kind to enhance criminalization of same-sex relations in Uganda. The so-called “Anti-Homosexuality Act,” which imposed the death penalty for same-sex relations, was passed by the parliament in 2013 and signed into law by President Museveni in early 2014. Within the same year, the law was invalidated by the Constitutional Court of Uganda on procedural grounds.

HomoCulture will continue to report on this story as it develops in the coming months as part of our continuing coverage on international affairs. 

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