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President Museveni must veto Uganda’s repressive Anti-Homosexuality Bill

It is outrageous that the parliament of Uganda has passed the repressive Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023.  President Museveni must immediately veto this bill, and help safeguard the rights of LGBTQ+ people across the country — offline and on.

Now tabled in front of the President, if passed, the cataclysmic new law would ban the “promotion of homosexuality” via the internet, and imposes life imprisonment for people who engage in sexual acts with people of the same gender, death sentences for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” and threatens to convict LGBTQ+ children of homosexuality. 

Access Now demands authorities take immediate action to rectify this attack on human rights of millions of people, and joins human rights experts in condemning the legislation for violating Uganda’s constitution and numerous human rights law instruments.

The passing of this disgraceful anti-homosexuality law deals a devastating blow to the advancement of human rights not only in Uganda, but across Africa at large. At a time where queer people across the continent already have a target on their backs, solidifying their persecution in law truly is bitter icing on the bigotry cake. Jaimee Kokonya, Africa Campaigner at Access Now

Banning the “promotion of homosexuality” is a broad provision which includes prohibiting the use of the internet to publish, distribute, broadcast, or advertise any material that could be considered to promote homosexuality. Unlike similar anti-LGBTQ+ bills, such as the one in Ghana, Uganda’s law does not mention social media platforms specifically. However, it does state that the prohibition of promotion of homosexuality extends to legal entities, who, if charged with this  offense, could see their licenses to operate in Uganda be revoked, and executives and employees be held criminally liable. This could potentially trigger excessive content moderation, and eliminate social media as a hub for LGBTQ+ resources and communication. 

Governments across the globe are continually utilizing various methods to infringe on the digital rights of LGBTQ+ people through censorship and breach of privacy, and regulate  LGBTQ+ content such as by restricting search engine results, restricting app store access, blocking websites and removing content. When similar laws were passed in Russia, human rights and LGBTQ+ support sites were censored.

It is imperative that bodies tasked with the mandate to protect and promote human rights stand firm in their commitments, particularly in the face of rights-destroying legislation like the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. It is incredibly disappointing to see the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights roll back its protections for LGBTQ+ people in Africa by claiming that sexual orientation is not an expressly recognized right in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Bridget Andere, Africa Policy Analyst at Access Now

The government of Uganda has an obligation to protect and promote human rights, President Yoweri Museveni must use his power to veto the repressive Anti-Homosexuality Bill.