amfAR Condemns Uganda’s Draconian Anti-LGBTQ+ Law

amfAR Condemns Uganda’s Draconian New Anti-LGBTQ+ Law

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni, represents one of the strictest and most discriminatory pieces of legislation against people who are LGBTQ+ and people living with or at risk for HIV ever enacted. The law was passed despite widespread criticism from local activists and other countries who fear it will negatively impact HIV prevention and treatment.

While same-sex sexual relations were already illegal in Uganda, the new act takes further steps to criminalize and punish same-sex and HIV-related activities:

  • Promoting homosexuality: Prison term of up to 20 years
  • Engaging in gay sex: Life imprisonment
  • “Aggravated homosexuality” (same-sex relations between people living with HIV, or sex with vulnerable groups such as children and people with disabilities, among others): Death

In addition to its potentially deadly impact on members of the LGBTQ+ community, advocates fear that the “promoting homosexuality” clause will negatively impact any organizations that provide HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention services, which might affect anyone who needs these lifesaving services regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In a joint statement condemning the legislation, the leaders of the Global Fund, UNAIDS, and PEPFAR said: “Uganda’s progress on its HIV response is now in grave jeopardy. The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 will obstruct health education and the outreach that can help end AIDS as a public health threat. The stigma and discrimination associated with the passage of the Act has already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services. Trust, confidentiality, and stigma-free engagement are essential for anyone seeking health care. LGBTQI+ people in Uganda increasingly fear for their safety and security, and increasing numbers of people are being discouraged from seeking vital health services for fear of attack, punishment and further marginalization.”

In response to the passage of the law, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is considering restricting visas for some Ugandan officials, and President Joe Biden threatened to impose economic penalties on the country.

The passage of this law in Uganda and the consideration of similar legislation in other countries, such as Kenya and Tanzania, could reverse progress toward ending AIDS.

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