Our Voices

Uganda Must Repeal Anti-LGBTQ+ Law Immediately

On May 29, 2023, President Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) 2023 into law. This law puts LGBTQ+ Ugandans at grave risk and undermines basic human rights in continuation of the increasing crackdown on civic space throughout the country.

State action, including through repressive legislation, has made Uganda hostile to LGBTQ+ people. In 2013, the Ugandan Parliament passed the first iteration of the AHA which was subsequently struck down by the Constitutional Court. Despite the decision of the Court, the passage of the bill set off a decade-long pattern of attacks on LGBTQ+ individuals by state and non-state agents. The passage of the AHA saw an unprecedented increase in homophobia and transphobia, which included harassment, forced evictions, and physical violence. After the bill passed through parliament, the LGBTQ+ community was left hanging in the balance. Now, Museveni has signed the bill into law and the nightmare scenario that we all feared has become a reality.

The law seriously jeopardizes the lives and rights of LGBTQ+ people in Uganda. It criminalizes both consensual same-sex adult sexual relations and the “promotion of homosexuality” which includes advocating for or supporting the rights of LGBTQ+ people with a possible 20-year prison sentence. The law also permits the death penalty for the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” which includes “serial offenders” or anyone having same-sex relations with a person with HIV or a disability.

Beyond the impacts on the LGBTQ+ population, the law threatens the fundamental human rights of all Ugandans. People living with HIV now face significant obstacles in accessing health care, putting their health and lives at risk. The enforcement of this law will result in crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations. Further, the AHA has already had impacts beyond Uganda. There are now copycat bills spreading throughout other countries, including Kenya and Tanzania, threatening the rights of LGBTQ+ people on the continent.

We are deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of our LGBTQ+ friends and family in Uganda, including our Human Rights Award laureate Frank Mugisha, who continues to fight tirelessly for the liberation of LGBTQ+ Ugandans. This law is abhorrent and must be repelled.