It’s official: Uganda’s Anti-Homosexual Bill was passed during a session of Parliament on December 20. Technically, it still needs President Yoweri Museveni’s approval, but he has made it clear he has every intention of signing.
Gay sex was already illegal in the Southeast African country, but under the new bill, being convicted of it more than once constitutes “aggravated homosexuality,” which could result in being sentenced to life in prison; even the first conviction could end in a fourteen year jail sentence, according to a parliament announcement. Like in Russia, “promoting” homosexuality is now illegal; further, even failing to report homosexual activities to the police is now a criminal offense.
The law, originally proposed in 2009, was condemned by countries around the world. Originally nicknamed the “Kill the Gays” bill for its suggestion of the death penalty for some activities, that section of the bill was removed from the final version.
The bill was actually not on the scheduled agenda for the day, catching even the president’s representative by surprise when it was brought up for a vote by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga. A reporter for Uganda’s Daily Monitor, Isaac Imaka, told Buzzfeed that the representative attempted to prevent the surprise vote with a quorum call, but the request was ignored.
After the bill passed, Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha told AFP, “I am officially illegal.”
In nearby Nigeria, a bill criminalizing same-sex marriages and LGBT advocacy is also waiting for presidential approval as of December 19.