On May 29, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni gave his assent to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (now Act). While same-sex relations were already criminalized under Uganda’s Penal Code, the new legislation goes much further, posing a grave threat to LGBTQ+ people in the country.
Writing against the backdrop of the legislation’s introduction and the selective invocations of culture to justify the criminalization of homosexuality, prominent scholar and activist Sylvia Tamale wrote, “It is not homosexuality that is un-African but the laws that criminalized such relations… what is alien to the continent is legalized homophobia, exported to Africa by the imperialists[.]”
An investigation in 2020 found that over 20 U.S. Christian groups fighting against LGBTQ+ rights and the right to abortion had together spent at least $54 million in the African continent since 2007. The biggest amount of money was spent by the Fellowship Foundation (a shadowy religious organization otherwise called The Family), which pumped over $20 million into Uganda between 2008 and 2018 alone. The organization is closely associated with anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the country.
Under the law, “a person who commits the offense of homosexuality,” defined solely as “the performance of a sexual act by a person on another person of the same sex,” will be sentenced to life imprisonment.
The offense of “aggravated homosexuality” is defined in the Act as circumstances including if “the offender is a serial offender” or if the “person against whom the offence is committed” contracts a terminal illness, such as HIV+. “Aggravated homosexuality”carries the death penalty.