Uganda charges man with ‘aggravated homosexuality’ in first prosecution under anti-gay law
A man participates in a Pride celebration in Entebbe, Uganda on Aug. 9, 2014. | AP

Ugandan authorities said last week they have charged a man with “aggravated homosexuality” under a new draconian law, which carries a possible death penalty. The charge is the first under the country’s anti-gay law passed in May.

The law appears to have widespread support in Uganda but has been condemned by rights groups and other campaigners. A group of United Nations experts described the law as “an egregious violation of human rights,” while Amnesty International called it “draconian and overly broad.”

Uganda has also come under pressure from the World Bank, which has threatened not to consider any new loans to the country unless the law is repealed.

The accused is identified as a 20-year-old “peasant” in the eastern district of Soroti, who was charged on August 18 with having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 41-year-old man, according to the charging document issued by police in the Soroti Central Division.

Aggravated homosexuality is defined as cases of same-sex sexual relations involving a minor and other categories of vulnerable people, or when the perpetrator is infected with HIV.

The charging document does not clarify the aggravating factor in the case, or say how the victim might be part of a vulnerable population. It says the offense took place at a sports stadium in Soroti, but provides no other details.

A suspect convicted of attempted aggravated homosexuality can be imprisoned for up to 14 years under the new law.

The legislation in May did not technically criminalize those who identify as LGBTQ+, which had been a key concern for activists who campaigned against an earlier version of the legislation. But homosexuality is completely criminalized in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries.

Last Tuesday, police in Nigeria announced the detention of at least 67 people celebrating a gay wedding in one of the largest mass detentions targeting homosexuality, which is outlawed in the west African country.

Morning Star

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Roger McKenzie
Roger McKenzie

Roger McKenzie is the International Editor of Morning Star, Britain’s daily socialist newspaper. He is the author of the book "African Uhuru: The Fight for African Freedom in the Rise of the Global South" published by Manifesto Press.