Gay Rights In Uganda (Or Lack Thereof)

Sometimes it’s important to remember that there are places in the world where human rights haven’t progressed much at all. Some believe that Uganda in Africa is one of the worst places in the world where you can grow up gay, and it’s not difficult to see why. There is a culture of hatred, disrespect, and disgust toward LGTBQ individuals that has seen little in the way of conflict resolution. These are the “rights” enjoyed by those in Uganda.

In 2014 Uganda’s government passed the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act. It was often referred to as the “Kill the Gays bill” by media outlets because the original version included a death penalty for those found to have violated the bill’s mandate. The new version poses a sentence of life imprisonment instead. Although the Anti-Homosexuality Act was quickly signed into law by Yoweri Museveni, the president (see his thoughts of LGBTQ below), it was ruled invalid by the Constitutional Court of Uganda.

One of the most heinous aspects of the proposed law is that it is written to apply to those living inside OR outside Uganda. Those who violate the provisions of the law who are not residents of Uganda may be extradited to the country to face punishment. The law continues to ensure that same-sex relationships–and marriage, of course–are illegal. There are additional penalties for those who would make it easier for homosexuals to engage in sexual activity with one another.

Activists have estimated that the LGBTQ community in Uganda may be upwards of 500,000 people. Those who are perceived to be gay are subject to violent assault or even murder. Both are commonplace in Uganda. In addition, media outlets are onboard. Some tabloids and newspapers have published lists of individuals who may be gay, spurring readers to take extreme action.

When the Rolling Stone newspaper (not to be confused with America’s Rolling Stone magazine) published personal information and called for the execution of about 100 individuals, the tabloid was precipitously sued by members of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, including David Kato, Kasha Jacqueline, and Pepe Julian Onziema. Although they won the lawsuit and the tabloid was forced to pay damages to the individuals in question, Kato was murdered not long after the victory.