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March 18, 2014

Uganda Arrests Two Men Under Anti-Homosexuality Act

Uganda’s anti-gay law claimed its first victims this weekend as two men were arrested in a hotel room in the southeast town of Jinja under charges of committing homosexual acts. The unidentified men face up to 14 years of incarceration if convicted under the Anti-Homosexuality Act, one of the most dangerous homophobic laws in Africa. LGBT organizations expect that this is only the first of many charges that will be filed under the law.

Despite strong objections from the international community, President Museveni signed the bill in February. An initial draft included the death penalty, but was amended following an international outcry. Under the current law courts can sentence individuals to life imprisonment if convicted of “aggravated homosexualty,” a charge that applies to repeat offenders.

The persecution of LGBT people is intensifying in several African countries. The enactment of the Ugandan bill occurred just weeks after President Goodluck Jonathan signed similar legislation in Nigeria. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) appears set to follow in Uganda and Nigeria’s footsteps, and earlier this week, the DRC’s neighbor to the south, Zambia, resumed the trial on a case against a gay couple near the capital of Lusaka, charged for “unnatural offences.” The couple sat in detention for almost a full year without seeing the inside of a courtroom.

Human Rights First urges the United States to continue to demonstrate leadership on global LGBT rights by working to stop passage of further discriminatory laws and promote the protection of LGBT rights as human rights worldwide.