KAMPALA — President Yoweri Museveni has officially signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, Speaker of Parliament Anita Among confirmed on Monday.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act, a highly contentious piece of legislation, has been a subject of intense discussion and lobbying – both within and outside Uganda.
“His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Uganda, Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has executed his constitutional mandate as prescribed by Article 91 (3) (a) of the Constitution. He has assented to the Anti-Homosexuality Act,” Speaker Among revealed in a tweet.
“As the Parliament of Uganda, we have answered the cries of our people. We have legislated to protect the sanctity of family as per Article 31 of the Constitution of Uganda. We have stood strong to defend our culture and aspirations of our people as per objectives 19 & 24 of national objectives and directive principles of state policy.”
The Speaker noted that the Parliament of Uganda believed that the law safeguards the sanctity of the family, in accordance with Article 31 of the Ugandan Constitution. Additionally, she stated that the legislation aligns with the cultural values and aspirations of the Ugandan people, as outlined in objectives 19 and 24 of the national objectives and directive principles of state policy.
She further commended the MPs for standing strong against external pressure and criticisms, attributing their resilience to the commitment to upholding Uganda’s motto; “For God and My Country.”
“I now encourage the duty bearers under the law to execute the mandate bestowed upon them in the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The people of Uganda have spoken, and it is your duty to now enforce the law in a fair, steadfast, and firm manner,” noted Among.
The enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act triggered widespread international reactions, with human rights organisations and advocacy groups expressing concern over its potential impact on the rights and freedoms of the LGBTQ+ community. The law has faced criticism for its potential to promote discrimination and persecution.
Speaker Among as well as the mover of the controversial law – Asuman Basalirwa later in the day, separately announced that the US had cancelled out their respective visa to travel to their country.
Gay activists too, separately voiced their discomfort with the law – calling for its repealing hour after President Museveni had signed it. With members of Uganda’s LGBTQ community in shock, critics noted that the law, which allows life imprisonment and the death penalty in some cases, is draconian and the world’s harshest.
The new law calls for up to 20 years in prison for promoting homosexuality and life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality.
The law also imposes the death penalty for what it calls ‘aggravated homosexuality,’ which includes having sex with people categorised as vulnerable, including the elderly and children.
Any Ugandan who does not report such cases is liable on conviction to spend five years in prison or pay a fine of Ugx10m (about $2,680.)
Also, journalists and other media figures face five years in prison if they disclose the identity of a victim of a homosexual act without the authority of the court or that person.