Post submitted by Jason Rahlan, Press Secretary, Global.
Earlier this year, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was widelycriticized by the international community for signing into law a bigoted and archaic piece of anti-LGBT legislation that made “aggravated homosexuality” a charge that carries a sentence of up to life in prison if convicted. Similar to last year’s Russian law that prohibits “homosexual propaganda,” this legislation also made it criminal for any individual or corporation to “promote” homosexuality. This new law has had a chilling effect for millions of LGBT Ugandans as reports have emerged about new arrest attempts against activists and some citizens awaiting trial for alleged “crimes.”
Immediately following the law’s enactment--which was “celebrated” by Museveni with a five-hour ceremony in Uganda’s capital, Kampala--reports surfaced of LGBT citizens attempting suicide for fear of “being hunted down”, and a local tabloid published a story outing what it alleged were Uganda’s “top 200 homosexuals.”
In March, LGBT activists were arrested and claimed to be beaten, tortured and threatened with death by Ugandan officials while in custody. In April, the offices of the Makerere University Walter Reed Project, which offered HIV/AIDS treatment to LGBT citizens and is funded in part by the United States government, was raided by police forces. Some of its employees were arrested, and the project had to temporarily suspend activities following the raid. Meanwhile, activists around the world are seeking funding to help LGBT Ugandans flee their homeland and seek asylum in more accepting countries following a reported increase in police raids and arrest attempts against activists.
And this week, the trial against two LGBT Ugandans who were arrested late last year for engaging in acts that were “against the order of nature” was greenlighted to begin on May 7. Although they are charged with breaking a law that existed prior to the new “Anti-Homosexuality” bill enacted in February, they too could face up to life in prison.
We reiterate our condemnation of hateful and destructive laws such as these, and we call on the United States government and the international community to continue to exert pressure on the Ugandan government to prevent this type of anti-LGBT persecution from taking place.