Today, perhaps more than ever before, LGBT rights are at the forefront of news reports, political dialogue, and the social imagination, at least in the United States. Whereas the gay community is treated very much as equals in other comparable nations, thousands of people around the planet or more are oppressed, imprisoned, and even killed for their orientation and lifestyle.
In nations like Uganda, in East Africa, LGBT rights are increasingly threatened, and horrifying reports have come from the country for months as the climate worsens for the country’s non-heterosexual citizens.
Did you know about the alarming corruption in Uganda? Or how the country’s LGBT community is being persecuted at unprecedented rates? These disturbing trends must be stopped.
Here are the most troubling events from the past weeks…
LGBT Rights in Uganda
Uganda is among the worst and most dangerous countries in the world for LGBT people to live in. Homosexuality is criminalized and thus LGBT persons are offered no special legal protection; on the contrary, harsher penalties against them have been promised by politicians, and a 2007 poll showed that 96% of Ugandans said society should not accept homosexuals. At the moment, those found guilty under these laws face up to fourteen years in prison, though vigilantism may pose an even bigger threat to those suspected of homosexual activity.
Along with targeting people on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, these laws also seek to imprison or execute people who are HIV-positive.
Current anti-LGBT legislation and sodomy laws have been in place since British colonial rule but have worsened over time. In 2009, an Anti Homosexuality Act was introduced to Parliament that would determine the systematic prejudice against the LGBT community for years to come. The Act proposed even more criminalization for same-sex relationships as well as the death penalty for homosexual acts and repeat offenders, as well as for HIV-positive people in gay relationships. Allies and supporters were also targeted by the Act, which included punishments of prison time or fines for people who supported LGBT rights.
This Act fully came to fruition when President Yoweri Museveni signed the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 (also known as the “Kill the Gays bill”) into law in February, 2014. Thankfully, it is still considered invalid by the Constitutional Court of Uganda.
This deeply unsettling legislation, should it take effect, calls for life imprisonment for people caught committing homosexual acts, or otherwise a minimum sentence of seven years, including for those found guilty of supporting or encouraging same-sex relationships. Managers and directors of businesses and NGOs found guilty of support LGBT rights can face imprisonment as individuals.