LAGOS, Nigeria — Uganda’s parliament has passed some of the most sweeping anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the world. Same-sex acts were already unlawful in Uganda, but Tuesday night’s vote now bans identifying as LGBTQ, or the so-called promotion of gay identity, and follows months of anti-gay outrage in Uganda.
In a packed chamber, lawmakers in Uganda overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new sweeping anti-gay law, with only two of the near 400 representatives voting against it.
"Congratulations," said Speaker Anita Among. "Whatever we are doing, we are doing it for the people of Uganda."
Same-sex acts have been criminal in Uganda under British colonial-era laws, but this new legislation goes much further. It punishes anyone identifying as gay or queer, and potentially people or rights groups seen as promoting LGBTQ+ identity and same-sex relations is punishable with up to life imprisonment. Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 of Africa's 54 countries.
International condemnation has been swift. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that the bill "would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans."
He added, "We urge the Ugandan Government to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation."
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called it a "deeply troubling development."
"If signed into law by the president, it will render lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are," he said. "It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other."
A similar law was passed in Uganda in 2014 but was struck down in the courts on procedural grounds, following outrage in Uganda and from international donors.
Human Rights Watch called the new legislation a "more egregious version" of the previous one.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has spoken in support of the legislation, is expected to sign it into law.
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