Uganda’s horrific new Anti-Homosexuality Act

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Published on 31 May 2023

All of us know someone – a family member, a loved one, a colleague – who is gay. Yet the LGBTQ+ community continues to endure discrimination, just to be who they are and love who they love, free from fear and persecution.  

While much progress has been made in recent decades, in the last few years this has been undermined by the erosion of LGBTQ+ rights around the world. Now, the clock has been turned back in Uganda by horrific new anti-LGBTQ+ legislation signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni.

The country’s new “Anti-Homosexuality Act", one of the most aggressive pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the world, could lead to the persecution of hundreds of thousands of people, driving them into hiding, or even exile. Some of the new ‘offences’ outlined in the Act even carry the death penalty. 

Uganda, ruled by President Museveni and its authoritarian government since 1986, has been affected by conflict and corruption for many years. One in five Ugandans live in poverty. The persecution of LGBTQ+ people is shifting attention away from the real issues affecting many people in the country.

Horrific stories are already emerging of people being evicted from their homes, losing their jobs, being savagely beaten and worse.

As a parent and grandparent, this is terrifying to contemplate. I want my family to grow up free to love whoever they love. And I wish the same upon everyone else, no matter where they live. 

People do not choose to be gay. Is Uganda really going to execute people for being who they are? They could be the president’s children, the attorney general’s children, the minister of justice’s children – anybody’s children. Would the politicians passing these laws one day execute their own children for being who they are? Unless they are completely callous, the answer should be no. Just as a good parent would accept their children’s sexual orientation and gender, governments should do the same. 

This inhumane law clearly violates Uganda’s obligations under national and international human rights law. If you agree, I’d urge you to join us in calling on President Museveni to repeal this law. It must not be enforced, and it must be revoked.  

There is so much at stake. For businesses, this law makes it a crime to provide information and support to LGBTQ+ employees, suppliers, investors, and customers. It would also compel companies to report those perceived as part of the LGBTQ+ community to the authorities.

We are a co-founder of Open For Business, a coalition of businesses fighting homophobia on a global scale. If you are a business leader, join us, and be part of collective action against attacks on LGBTQ+ rights. Whoever you are, join us in speaking out against this horrific law.