Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has refused to sign a controversial new bill against homosexuality that includes the death penalty in some cases – instead, requesting that the bill be amended.
Museveni’s decision was announced after a meeting of parliamentarians in his ruling party, who agreed to return the bill to the national assembly “with proposals for its improvement.”
A spokesperson for the presidency said that Museveni was not opposed to the punishments proposed in the bill but wanted parliamentarians to consider “the issue of rehabilitation.”
The bill, which was approved by lawmakers last month, has already garnered criticism from the international community, with the United States warning of economic consequences if the legislation is enacted. A group of United Nations experts has also described the bill as “an egregious violation of human rights.”
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda under a colonial-era law that criminalizes sex acts “against the order of nature,” with life imprisonment punishment. The new bill prescribes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and life imprisonment for “homosexuality.” Jail terms of up to 20 years are also proposed for those who advocate or promote the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
The bill has broad support in Uganda, including among church leaders and others who have called for a harsh new law targeting homosexuals. It was introduced by an opposition lawmaker who said his goal was to punish the “promotion, recruitment, and funding” of LGBTQ+ activities in the country. Only two of 389 legislators present for the voting session opposed the bill.
Anti-gay sentiment in Uganda has grown amid press reports alleging sodomy in boarding schools, including a prestigious one for boys where a parent accused a teacher of abusing her son. Despite this, Museveni’s decision to request amendments to the bill represents a potential shift in the country’s stance on homosexuality.
Last Updated on Apr 21, 2023