While no-one has yet been prosecuted under Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, there has been a shocking spike in attacks against LGBT people in the country since it was passed.
A report compiled by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) recorded 162 incidents since December last year, when Parliament passed the draconian law.
In comparison, the organisation only recorded eight incidents in the previous 11 months and 19 incidents in 2012. According to the report, this represents an increase of between 750% and 1,900% on previous years.
SMUG commented that this “can only be explained by the passage of the AHA and the virulently homophobic atmosphere this has engendered.”
The report documents incidents of mob violence, attacks on people’s homes, blackmail, people being fired, arrests, suicides and evictions. It also reported that at least 25 people fled Uganda because of the law.
SMUG also highlighted 29 “outings” of LGBT people by the Ugandan media, which led to some victims being attacked or disowned by their families.
There were four cases of men accused of homosexuality being kidnapped and tortured while a 17-year-old boy committed suicide by ingesting rat poison and pills.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was passed by Ugandan lawmakers in December last year and was signed into law by President Museveni in February, despite an international outcry.
The law extends the existing ban on gay sex and also punishes repeat “offenders” and attempts by same-sex couples to marry, all with life imprisonment.
In addition, anyone who “aids, abets [or] counsels” a gay person and anyone who rents a home or room to a gay person could also be sentenced to seven years in jail. The bill further includes criminal penalties of five to seven years in prison for anyone who “promotes” homosexuality.
In the last few months a number of people have been arrested on homosexuality charges under previous colonial-era anti-gay laws but not yet under the new law, which is currently being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional by activists.
According to SMUG, “The passing of AHA has given permission to a culture of extreme and violent homophobia whereby both state and non-state actors are free to persecute Uganda’s LGBTI people with impunity.”