Richard Branson

Virgin founder Richard Branson has lashed out at plans to pass a draconian new anti-gay law in Uganda.

In a blog post on the Virgin website on Wednesday, Branson described the proposed legislation as an “attempt to outlaw and punish people just because of who they love.”

The new bill, which was recently leaked online, is intended to replace the previously annulled Anti-Homosexuality Act.

It focuses on the “promotion” of homosexuality and aims to ban any form of gay-affirming communication, gay dating sites, gay rights groups, funding for these organisations, knowingly renting premises to gay people and outlawing the solemnising of same-sex marriages.

“This new bill would damage Uganda’s international trade with, and funding from, countries that support LGBT rights – something that could exacerbate poverty in Uganda and cause even more damage to the country,” said Branson.

To prevent the bill from being considered, he urged “individuals, governments and companies worldwide to voice their distaste. Uganda and all countries that discriminate against people for supporting gay rights must reconsider their stance.”

Branson added: “People should be able to love whoever they want – the law should make no judgement on sexuality, and instead celebrate people who build loving relationships that strengthen society.”

The businessman and entrepreneur has been a long-standing supporter of the LGBT community. Last year, Branson criticised Uganda for passing the original Anti-Homosexuality Act. He previously criticised Nigeria’s anti-gay legislation, and in May announced a Virgin boycott of a hotel chain owned by the anti-gay Sultan of Brunei.

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