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May 23, 2014

Report Shows Increased Violence for Uganda’s LGBT Community

A new report issued by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) this month documents the alarming impact of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni on February 24th of this year. The report, entitled “Enhanced Persecution in Uganda Following the Passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014,” documents 162 incidents.

Although no convictions have yet been handed down under the new law, the report shows it has had an immediate effect on Uganda’s LGBT community. The 162 documented attacks all occurred within roughly a four-month period from December 20th when Parliament passed the bill to May 1st. The report marked a rapid increase in the number of reported incidents, from 19 cases in 2012 to 162 in the first part of 2014, confirming fears that such laws legitimize homophobia and provide a culture of impunity for bias-motivated crimes.

According to the report:

  • 1/3 of all reported incidents included an element of violence such as physical attacks or threats, kidnappings, or torture. 
  • More than 40 percent of the incidents included intimidation by state authorities, intrusion by the press, blackmail, or arrest. 
  • Half of all reported cases included an element of loss of property, income or home. 

Since the passage of the law, 25 Ugandans have sought asylum in other countries, 11 have been disowned by their families, and four have committed suicide—a stark reminder that homophobic legislation has an effect beyond the courtroom and jail cell.

The SMUG report is an important contribution to the effort to combat homophobia in Africa. Often, in countries that have introduced or enhanced similar anti-LGBT laws, there has been an unfortunate absence of documentation of abuse. With the information provided by SMUG, the international community will have concrete evidence to base their future efforts to protect the human rights of LGBT people in Uganda. 

For the full report visit Sexual Minorities Uganda’s website.