Ugandan lawmakers have introduced a bill proposing tough new penalties for same-sex relations, defying criticism from human rights groups. The proposed law would criminalize anyone who engages in same-sex activity or "holds out" as LGBTQ, with up to 10 years' imprisonment. The bill has been referred to a house committee for scrutiny, with a public hearing planned in which sexual minorities will be allowed to participate. Uganda is known for its intolerance of homosexuality and strict Christian views on sexuality.
However, since independence from Britain in 1962, there has never been a conviction for consensual same-sex activity.
The proposed legislation has sparked outrage from human rights groups worldwide. Amnesty International called it "a grave assault on human rights," while Human Rights Watch stated that the bill would "further entrench discrimination and violence against LGBT people." The move comes amid conspiracy theories circulating on social media accusing international forces of promoting homosexuality in conservative Uganda.
This is not the first time that Uganda has attempted to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation. In 2014, President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill imposing tough jail terms for homosexual acts, but it was later struck down by the country's constitutional court.