Uganda Criminalizes The Act Of Coming Out

Uganda has passed a new law that criminalizes the act of identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.

More than 30 African countries have laws on the books banning same-sex relations. But Uganda’s parliament has just passed one of the harshest anti-LGBTQ laws in Africa.

The new legislation aims to criminalize the act of identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Among other things, the bill creates the offense of “attempted homosexuality,” making the act of just saying you’re gay punishable with up to 10 years in jail.

Additionally, the bill includes a punishment of up to five years in prison for the “promotion of homosexuality.”

The act of sex between two people of the same gender is already punishable with life imprisonment.

Supporters of the new law say it is necessary to deter LGBTQ activities, which they say threaten traditional values in the conservative and religious East African nation.

An earlier version of the bill was passed in 2014 but was later struck down by a court on procedural grounds. LGBTQ activists call this new legislation “a more egregious version” of the 2014 law.

A statement from the group Human Rights Watch notes that one of the most extreme features of the new bill is that it criminalizes people simply for being who they are – as well as further infringing on the rights to privacy, and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda.

The legislation is widely expected to be approved by Uganda’s president, who has long opposed LGBTQ rights calling gay people “deviants.”