Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni has signed into law anti-homosexuality laws supported by many in his East African country, but widely condemned in the West, including by numerous church leaders.
The bill does not criminalise those who identify as LGBT+ which was a key concern for some human rights campaigners in the predominantly Christian (84%) country.
The new laws carry the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality which relates to cases involving HIV, children and vulnerable people.
A suspect convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” can be imprisoned for up to 14 years.
Parliamentary Speaker Anita Among said the president had “answered the cries of our people” in signing the bill.
The 2014 census found the religious make-up of Uganda as 39% Catholic, 32% Anglican, 11% Pentecostal and 13% Muslim.
Premier Christian News reports that the Anglican Church of Uganda welcomed the legislation, but Archbishop of Uganda, Dr Stephen Kaziimba, reiterated that the Church only supports life imprisonment for such crimes, not the death penalty.
“We are grateful that the Act builds on existing laws by offering greater protection of children through strong anti-grooming measures, strong restrictions on promotion, and protection of children by not allowing those convicted under the Act to be employed in organisations that work directly with children,” he said.
The Archbishop claimed homosexuality is “being forced” on Ugandans “by foreign actors” against their will, culture and religious beliefs.
“They disguise themselves as “human rights activists,” but are corrupting real human rights,” he argued.
The nation’s Catholic leaders and Pope Francis have yet to officially comment on the new laws.
Homosexuality is criminalised in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries.
Human rights campaigners say the new legislation is unnecessary in a country where homosexuality has long been illegal under a colonial-era law.
US President Joe Biden called the new laws “a tragic violation of universal human rights — one that is not worthy of the Ugandan people, and one that jeopardises the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country.”
“I join with people around the world — including many in Uganda — in calling for its immediate repeal. No one should have to live in constant fear for their life or being subjected to violence and discrimination. It is wrong,” President Biden added.