Museveni Affirms Privacy Rights for Homosexuals under Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023

Individuals who privately identify as homosexuals or seek confidential assistance from doctors or priests will not be in violation of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023, according to President Yoweri Museveni. This was part of his speech during the State of the Nation Address on Wednesday afternoon.

The bill, introduced as a Private Members Bill by Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa, was passed by Parliament on March 22, 2023, and subsequently signed into law by President Museveni on May 26, 2023.

During his address, Museveni acknowledged the need for potential amendments to the law, particularly regarding provisions that would require employers and landlords to identify homosexuals among their employees and tenants.

“I have told our MPs, that if there are still some illogicalities in the law, such as forcing employers to know who is a homosexual in the company or landlords to know which tenants are homosexuals, we shall work to amend them and keep the substance,” the President said.

Clarifying the intentions behind the law, Museveni stated that the legislation targets individuals who actively recruit others or engage in deceptive practices to influence those who are not homosexually oriented.

The President reiterated that being a homosexual in itself is not a crime, as long as the individual keeps their sexual orientation private. “This is the law I signed. These are the three substantive points-being, is your personal problem; promoting is criminal and qualifies you for prison; raping qualifies you for a possible death sentence. Additionally, in Uganda, sex is confidential, even heterosexual sex,” he emphasized.

President Museveni further highlighted the law’s penalties, stating that individuals convicted of recruiting others into homosexuality may face imprisonment for up to 20 years. Additionally, committing acts of rape against children or vulnerable individuals would be considered a capital offense, potentially resulting in the death penalty.

The President emphasized that sexual matters, including heterosexual activities, are considered confidential in Uganda. He urged healthcare providers to assist patients while keeping the law’s substantive points in mind.

“I will arrange a dedicated broadcast on this issue towards the end of June,” said Museveni. Following the law’s enactment, a group of activists led by Dr. Adrian Jjuuko filed a petition with the Constitutional Court, arguing that the Anti-Homosexuality Act violated constitutional requirements by excluding meaningful public participation during its creation.

The petitioners asserted that criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships among adults in private violated rights to equality, non-discrimination, dignity, liberty, and privacy. The United States President, Joe Biden, issued a statement condemning the Anti-Homosexuality Act, considering it a violation of universal human rights.

“I have directed my National Security Council to evaluate the implications of this law on all aspects of U.S. engagement with Uganda, including our ability to safely deliver services under the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other forms of assistance and investments. My Administration will also incorporate the impacts of the law into our review of Uganda’s eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA),” read part of Biden’s statement.

He hinted at potential sanctions and restrictions on individuals involved in human rights abuses or corruption.

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