A 20-year-old man has become the first known individual in Uganda to face a charge of “aggravated homosexuality,” a crime punishable by death.
Reuters reported that the unnamed man was charged on 18 August after being accused of engaging in “unlawful sexual intercourse” with a 41-year-old man.
According to the recently enacted Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a person can be charged with “aggravated homosexuality” if they are deemed “repeat offenders” or if found guilty of any one of several acts.
These include rape, engaging in sexual activity with a minor, transmitting HIV to another person, having sexual relations with someone with a disability or mental illness, or engaging in sexual activity with an elderly person or an individual under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Due to limited information about the details of the case, it remains unclear why the man’s actions have been classified as “aggravated homosexuality.”
The Anti-Homosexuality Act, signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni in May, has sparked global outrage. It enforces severe penalties, including life imprisonment for participating in homosexual acts, the death penalty for “aggravated” homosexuality, and a 20-year prison sentence for advocating LGBTQ+ rights.
Even landlords can face up to seven years in prison if they knowingly allow their premises to be used for homosexual activities.
Reportedly, at least 17 individuals have been charged under the Anti-Homosexuality Act since its enactment.
One of those recently charged is a man who had championed the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
Elisha Mukisa gained notoriety in Uganda for presenting himself as an “ex-gay” and claiming to be a firsthand witness to alleged practices that “recruit” individuals into homosexuality. Alongside another man, Mukisa is now facing charges of engaging in homosexuality between December 2022 and July 2023 which could see them jailed for life.
Activists have submitted legal petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, but the courts have not yet agreed to hear their cases.
The United States has imposed several sanctions against Uganda over the law, while the World Bank has suspended new loans to the country.