Ugandan LGBTQ activists respond to government attempts to further criminalize homosexuality

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05/31/2021

LGBTQ Ugandan activists are mobilizing against the Sexual Offenses Bill 2019 before Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signs it into law. Members of Uganda’s Parliament caught LGBTQ Ugandan activists off guard with the late-night passage and tweet announcing the lawmakers’ vote May 3. Lawmakers incorporated elements of the former Anti-Homosexuality Act into the Sexual Offenses Bill, criminalizing homosexuality as well as sex work. It also removed some consent language during sexual acts, which angered feminists. “It was a surprise it was passed,” said Ssenfuka “Biggie” Joanita Warry, the executive director of Freedom and Roam Uganda. “We only got to know after its passing.” She said most people were scared of the bill because of Clause 11, which stresses “what was not emphasized in the penal code.” The British colonial-era law vaguely criminalized sex “contrary to the order of nature,” but was used to harass the country’s LGBTQ community. Ugandan leaders retained the law in the country’s 1950 penal code and after the country became independent in 1962. In 2000, the law was amended to include lesbian relationships as well as oral and anal sex that could land anyone in prison for seven years if convicted.

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