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For the first time in Uganda, a 20-year-old man was charged with “aggravated homosexuality”, a crime punishable by death under the country’s implemented anti-gay law.
Uganda passed one of the most severe anti-LGBTI+ laws in the world in May 2023, defying criticism from Western governments and human rights organizations.
The punishment for having same-sex relations is life in jail. The death sentence may be imposed in situations deemed “aggravated”, such as those involving repeated offences, gay sex that results in the transmission of a terminal illness, or same-sex contact with a minor, an old person, or a person with a disability.
According to Reuters, the defendant was charged with aggravated homosexuality on August 18 after engaging in “illegal sexual intercourse” with a 41-year-old male. It’s not made clear why the crime was deemed aggravated.
The accused was charged in Soroti [in eastern Uganda] and is currently being held in custody on remand”. Jacquelyn Okui, a spokesoerson for Uganda’s office of public prosecutions, said that he would appear in court to discuss the case.
The United Nations, several foreign governments, including the United States, and international rights organizations had denounced the harsh legislation.
This month, the World Bank made the announcement that it was stopping fresh loans to the East African country because the law “fundamentally contradicts” the principles upheld by the U.S.-based lender.
Additionally, the U.S. restricted some Ugandan government officials’ access to visas, and President Joe Biden commanded a review of U.S. aid to Uganda In May, Biden vowed to slash funding and investment to Uganda unless the laws he deemed “a tragic violation of universal human rights” were immediately repealed.
However, the government has resisted, and in the conservative, largely Christian nation, MPs defended the laws as a vital defense against perceived Western immorality.
Museveni accused the World Bank of using money to “coerce” the government into repealing the contentious legislation.
More than 30 other African countries criminalise homosexuality, and LGBTQI+ groups worry that Uganda’s new law will inspire Kenya and other close neighbors to enact more stringent laws.