Global Action Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Amid Surge of Violent Attacks
Protestors in Washington DC.

Protestors gathered outside Ugandan embassies worldwide on Tuesday for a global day of action against that country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which criminalises all LGBTQ people and proposes a series of punishments ranging from fines to the death penalty.


Violence against people suspected of being LGBTQ has already surged in the past month since Uganda’s Parliament passed the Bill with almost unanimous support.

However, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni declined last week to sign the Bill into law, sending it back to parliament last week with the instruction that it be “reinforced and strengthened”.

While Museveni also congratulated MPs for rejecting “the pressure from imperialists”, he has been under intense pressure from the United Nations, US and European Union members not to sign the Bill.

In addition, Uganda’s Deputy Attorney General has written to the Speaker highlighting why the Bill is unconstitutional, particularly focusing on the death penalty clauses.

Since the Bill was passed a month ago, hate crimes and violence against LGBTQ people have risen sharply, according to the Human Rights and Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), a legal aid organisation.

HIV services have also been affected, with some LGBTQ patients being afraid to attend clinics for fear of being arrested, according to The Lancet.

In the past month, HRAPF has handled 59 cases involving LGBTQ or suspected LGBTQ persons. Forty of these cases “involved violence and violations targeting the victims purely on the basis of their presumed sexuality, and affected a total of 85 persons”. 

“In one of these cases, a group of six people were arrested and charged with having carnal knowledge against the order of nature because the area local chairperson saw a video from a gay porn site in which one of the actors looked like one of the victims,” according to HRAPF, which itself faces fines simply for assisting LGBTQ clients.

“In the most recent case, an athlete who was suspected to be a transgender woman was arrested by a mob, forcefully undressed and then forced to march through the streets naked while the crowd heckled her, threw objects at her, took her photos/ videos and even fondled her.”

Meanwhile, a report released on Monday points out that Western governments and aid agencies – including the UK, Dutch, Norwegian and US governments  – have donated $40 million to Ugandan anti-LGBTQ religious groups such as the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda since 2014.

While the report acknowledges that there is no evidence “that any of this money specifically paid for anti-LGBTQI activities”, it adds that the aid and partnerships “can boost groups’ credibility, their reputations, and their access to power and other finance”. 

Kenya follows Uganda

A Kenyan Member of Parliament, Peter Kaluma, has tabled an almost identical Bill to his parliament shortly after returning from a meeting in Uganda where leaders of a US anti-LGBTQ group, Family Watch International (FWI), delivered keynote addresses.

FWI has a long history of involvement in anti-LGBTQ activities in Africa and was involved in promoting the forerunner of the current Uganda Bill, the so-called “kill the gays” Bill passed in 2014 but stopped by the courts on a technicality.

FWI founder and leader Sharon Slater has doggedly pursued an anti-LGBT agenda for years, making a wide variety of claims including that LGBT people are more likely to be paedophilesSlater, has also played a hand in the extreme anti-LGBTQ Bill before Ghana’s parliament.

Slater, a Mormon from Arizona, has also been campaigning for years for African governments to ban comprehensive sexuality education in schools.

A proponent of “conversion therapy”, a discredited approach that aims to change a person’s sexuality, Slater has apparently convinced Museveni that such ‘therapy’ should be promoted in the Bill to encourage people to renounce their homosexuality.

Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater addresing Ugandan politicians

Geopolitical complications 

While the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has drawn condemnation from European governments and the US, this has been muted as Western governments are in a race to woo African governments away from Russia and China. Russia also persecutes LGBTQ people and has a similar anti-rights agenda as Uganda.

Meanwhile, South Africa, which outlaws discrimination against citizens on the basis of sexual orientation, is the only African country to mount protests against the Bill.

The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters, which has significant youth support, has marched to the Ugandan Embassy in Pretoria. Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Secretary General of the ruling African National Congress said that discrimination and persecution were against the African Charter, and called on all states to “ensure that their citizens enjoy their full human rights”.

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