Metro Weekly

Uganda strengthens anti-gay laws, brands gay sex an “unnatural offense”

Same-sex couples can be punished with committing "unnatural offenses" under a new law

uganda, gay news, metro weekly
A 2018 protest against Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ oppression — Photo: Alisdare Hickson

Uganda has further strengthened its anti-gay laws with new legislation that brands gay sex an “unnatural offense.”

The African nation already criminalizes same-sex sexual relations, with Uganda’s Penal Code outlawing “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and gay people facing up to life in prison if convicted.

But that wasn’t sufficient for lawmakers in the Ugandan parliament, who passed the Sexual Offences Bill on Monday, May 3, two years after it was formally introduced.

Among its various sections, the bill criminalizes “unnatural offenses,” including sexual acts “contrary to the order of nature” and bestiality.

But the Bill also builds on language in the country’s Penal Code by specifically banning “sexual act[s] between persons of the same gender.”

Those convicted under the “unnatural offenses” clause would be subject to imprisonment for five years, Uganda’s Independent reports.

Lawmakers told the Independent that the new law would not be thrown out in court, like the country’s infamous “Kill the Gays” bill. Introduced in 2013, it proposed the death penalty for same-sex sexual relations.

That was later reduced to life in prison and the bill was signed into law in 2014, drawing international condemnation. However, it was short-lived, as Uganda’s Constitutional Court subsequently annulled the law on a technicality.

The Ugandan government had flirted with the prospect of reviving the “Kill the Gays” bill in 2019 and expanding it to include punishing those accused of “promoting” homosexuality.

A government minister at the time claimed there had been “massive recruitment” of young people into homosexuality, and that defenders of variant sexual orientations deserved to be criminalized.

In the wake of suggestions that the “Kill the Gays” bill would be revived, human rights activists said that attacks on LGBTQ Ugandans increased, alongside reports that gay men were being arrested, detained, interrogated, and subjected to forced anal examinations under the guise of collecting “proof” of homosexuality.

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