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Germany condemns Uganda's new 'draconian' anti-gay law

March 23, 2023

The new anti-gay legislation in the East African country would mean long prison terms or even death for people who identify as LGBTQ.

Ugandan legislators participate in the debate of the Anti-Homosexuality bill, which proposes tough new penalties for same-sex relations during a sitting at the Parliament building in Kampala, Uganda March 21, 2023.
Uganda's new draconian anti-gay bill has received international backlashImage: Abubaker Lubowa/REUTERS

Germany's government has sharply criticized a new law passed by Uganda's Parliament, calling it "draconian" and saying it means "a declaration of war on queer people."

Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance Commissioner Luise Amtsberg said the law "would be a grave violation of human rights."

"I appeal to the Ugandan president not to sign this law," Amtsberg said.

On Tuesday, Uganda's Parliament passed sweeping anti-gay legislation, which proposes new penalties for same-sex relationships.

Germany's commissioner for LGBTIQ+ equality, Sven Lehmann, described it as a "draconian tightening" of the already existing criminalization of homosexuality in the East African country.

Lehmann urged for the legislation to be stopped, saying it amounted to a "declaration of war on queer people."

What is in the bill?

The anti-gay bill would punish people who fail to report homosexual acts with seven to 10 years in prison or heavy fines.

People found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality" would face the death penalty and those found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts can face life imprisonment.

The law would also punish people who knowingly harbor or provide medical care or legal assistance to LGBTQ people.

The bill, adopted by Parliament, now requires President Yoweri Museveni's signature to become law. It is expected that the 78-year-old president will sign it.

Uganda passes anti-homosexuality bill

International condemnation

In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said the bill was "probably among the worst of its kind in the world." 

"If signed into law by the president, it will render lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are. It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other," Türk said.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre echoed that statement, calling the legislation among the "most extreme in the world."

If the law were enacted, US national security spokesman John Kirby said, the United States would "have to take a look" at imposing economic sanctions on Uganda.

Transgender Ugandan poses in front of a rainbow flag during Pride celebrations
The international community has warned of repercussions if the bill is signed into lawImage: Rebecca Vassie/AP Photo/picture alliance

A spokesperson for foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said "the EU is deeply concerned by the passing of an anti-homosexuality bill by the Parliament."

"We will continue engaging with authorities & civil society to ensure that all individuals are treated equally," the spokesperson wrtoe on Twitter.

East Africa continues to witness a growing crackdown on LGBTQ people, with Tanzania's ruling party calling for homosexual people to be castrated.

In Kenya, President William Ruto said in early March that homosexuality has no place in the country.

dmn,jcg/nm (dpa,AP,Reuters)