UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Urges Uganda Not to Adopt Draconian Anti-LGBTQI+ Legislation
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk has condemned Uganda’s proposed new legislation targeting lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, calling it “devastating and deeply disturbing.” Türk has called on President Yoweri Museveni not to promulgate the bill into law.
The proposed legislation is among the most extreme in the world, and almost every aspect of it would be deeply discriminatory towards LGBTQI+ people. The bill outlines the death penalty for the offence of aggravated homosexuality, life imprisonment for homosexuality, and lengthy prison terms for promoting homosexuality or attempting homosexuality.
Violence and Discrimination
The new legislation is not only deeply concerning for the LGBTQI+ community in Uganda but also for journalists, medical workers, and human rights defenders, who would face lengthy prison sentences for doing their work. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the president not to pass the bill into law, highlighting that the new legislation would put people’s health, safety, and human rights at grave risk.
Conflicting with Constitutional Provisions and International Obligations
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also points out that the proposed legislation would be in conflict with Uganda’s constitutional provisions of equality and non-discrimination for all. The legislation would also contravene Uganda’s international legal obligations on human rights and political commitments on sustainable development, putting the entire country at risk.
Rise in Homophobic Rhetoric
The proposed legislation comes in the wake of a rise in homophobic rhetoric among politicians, religious leaders, and other sections of Ugandan society, increasing the safety risks for LGBTQI+ people. Civil society groups report that in February 2023 alone, more than 110 LGBTQI+ people reported incidents of violence, including arrests, evictions, public stripping, and sexual violence.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has emphasized the urgency of opposing this legislation, calling on people everywhere to condemn violence and discrimination against others on the basis of their sexual orientation. He pays tribute to brave parliamentarians and civil society actors who have spoken out against the bill.
If this law passes into force, it will have serious negative repercussions on society as a whole and could erode gains made over many years. It is the duty of all those who believe in justice and equality to do what they can to stop this law from coming into force.