Uganda’s Parliament Passes Law Against Homosexuality


Uganda’s Parliament on Tuesday unanimously passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 that criminalizes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) activities. 

Under this new law, people who publicly declare that they belong to the LGBTQ community face between 2-10 years imprisonment for engaging in homosexuality, aggravated homosexuality, attempted homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuality, and conspiracy to commit homosexuality.

The Bugiri Municipality Member of Parliament, Asuman Basalirwa, who moved the private member’s Bill first tabled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 for its first reading on March 9, 2023, before Speaker Anita Among referred it to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for scrutiny.

After 10 days of rigorous public hearings and scrutiny, the Committee returned the Bill to the House on Tuesday for the second and third reading before it was overwhelmingly passed following seven hours of debate in which, 358 out of the 529 legislators participated.

Reiterating the overall objective of the Bill, MP Basalirwa noted that it establishes comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting same-sex relations as well as strengthening Uganda’s capacity to deal with the emerging threats to the traditional family.

Basalirwa argued that the new law will protect the cherished culture of Uganda, children, and youth who are vulnerable to sexual abuse as well as prohibit same-sex marriages. 

The Bill prohibits and penalizes homosexuality and its related practices, the promotion of homosexuality, and protects and provides assistance and payment of compensation to victims of homosexuality.

According to the certificate of financial implication issued by Mr. Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, the Bill aligns with the National Development Plan (NDP III) to empower families to embrace national values.

However, Mr. Fox Odoi Oywelowo, the Budama North East Constituency MP, and his counterpart Kisoro Municipality, Paul Kwizera presented a dissenting minority report to the Bill citing the law being a duplication of several provisions in the Penal Code Act of 1950 and a violation to Articles 28 and  44(c) of the Constitution of Uganda. 

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They argued that the Bill will consequently infringe on the rights of Ugandans to freedoms of expression, association, liberty, equality, privacy, and freedom from discrimination, and inhuman and degrading treatment among others.

However, Anita Among the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, said the house has performed its cardinal role of legislation and reiterated that no sanctions by the Europeans will shake the country’s sovereignty.

Several Civil Society activists in Uganda from among others Chapter 4 Uganda, Women’s Pro Bono Initiative, and Law dons from Makerere University School of Law dissented from the Bill arguing that it will generate public hostility against sexual and gender minorities in the country. 

Notably, Uganda first passed the Anti-Homosexuality law on December 20, 2013, which was tabled by the Ndorwa East Member of Parliament, David Bahati. This particular law provided a life sentence and the death penalty for offenders. 

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni signed the Act into law on 24 February 2014 but it was later annulled by the Constitutional Court on grounds that it was passed without the requisite quorum in the House. 

At the time, several donors in countries like Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the USA suspended aid to Uganda. 


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