The Sexual Offences Bill 2019, a piece of anticipated legislation in Uganda that would impose harsher penalties on people who engage in same-sex relationships, has drawn criticism from the European Parliament. The maximum sentence for homosexual behavior would be raised from 14 years to life in prison under the proposed legislation.
In a resolution passed on April 21, the European Parliament denounced the proposed bill, deeming it discriminatory and an infringement of human rights. Additionally, they urged the Ugandan government to revoke the bill and to ensure that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is protected under the law.
“…Calls on Uganda President Yoweri Museveni not to promulgate the Bill and to categorically refuse to give assent to any similar initiative in future, dissuading further attempts in this direction; urges the Uganda authorities to promote the principles of tolerance, acceptance, and respect for human rights and to review any law criminalising homosexuality,” reads in part the statement.
“Calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service to use all necessary diplomatic, legal and financial means at its disposal to convince the Ugandan President to refrain from signing the Bill passed by Ugandan Parliament; further calls on the EU to make full and effective use of the political dialogue…” the statement further reads.
The European Parliament also voiced its concern regarding the mounting violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ+ individuals in Uganda, including the detention of people due to their sexual orientation.
The resolution has been met with approval by human rights organizations in Uganda and around the world. Many have called upon the Ugandan government to safeguard the rights of LGBTIQ+ individuals and to terminate the persecution and discrimination they face.
The proposed bill has received substantial backlash from activists and human rights groups who caution that it may lead to more violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people in the country. Others have criticized the bill for diverting attention from more pressing concerns such as poverty and unemployment.
Uganda has a history of discrimination and persecution against the LGBTIQ+ community, with homosexual activity being illegal in the country since the colonial era. In 2014, the Ugandan government introduced a similar bill, which aimed to institute the death penalty for particular homosexual acts. However, it was later invalidated by the country’s constitutional court.
The European Parliament’s resolution is the latest international rebuke of Uganda’s proposed anti-gay bill. The United States, Canada, and other countries have also raised concerns regarding the bill and its potential implications for human rights in the country.