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Ugandan man is first to be charged with ‘aggravated homosexuality’ under new anti-LGBT laws and now faces possible death penalty


A Ugandan man has been charged with ‘aggravated homosexuality’ and now faces a possible death penalty under the country’s new anti-LGBT laws.

The 20-year-old is the first to face the charge since Uganda enacted one of the world’s harshest laws targeting the LGBT community in May.

It prescribes life in prison for same-sex intercourse. The death penalty can apply in cases deemed ‘aggravated’, which include repeat offences, gay sex that transmits terminal illness, or same-sex intercourse with a minor, an elderly person or a person with disabilities.

According to a charge sheet, the defendant was charged on August 18 with aggravated homosexuality after he ‘performed unlawful sexual intercourse’ with a 41-year-old man. It did not specify why the act was considered aggravated.

‘Since it is a capital offence triable by the High Court, the charge was read out and explained to him in the Magistrates Court on (the) 18th and he was remanded,’ Jacqueline Okui, spokesperson for the office of the director of public prosecutions said.

A Ugandan man has been charged with 'aggravated homosexuality' and now faces a possible death penalty under the country's new anti-LGBT laws (file image)

A Ugandan man has been charged with ‘aggravated homosexuality’ and now faces a possible death penalty under the country’s new anti-LGBT laws (file image)

Okui did not provide additional details about the case. She said she was not aware of anyone else having been previously charged with aggravated homosexuality.

Justine Balya, an attorney for the defendant, said she believed the entire law was unconstitutional. The law has been challenged in court, but the judges have not yet taken up the case.

Balya said four other people have been charged under the law since its enactment and that her client was the first to be prosecuted for aggravated homosexuality. She declined to comment on the specifics of his case.

Uganda has not executed anyone in around two decades, but capital punishment has not been abolished and President Yoweri Museveni threatened in 2018 to resume executions to stop a wave of crime.

The law’s enactment three months ago drew widespread condemnation and threats of sanctions. 

The United States has also imposed visa restrictions on some Ugandan officials, and President Joe Biden ordered a review of US aid to Uganda.

The World Bank earlier this month announced a decision not to consider new loans to Uganda because of the law, drawing an angry response from President Yoweri Museveni.

‘The Ugandan president has today legalised state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia,’ said Clare Byarugaba, a Ugandan rights activist when the law was introduced. 

‘It’s a very dark and sad day for the LGBTIQ community, our allies and all of Uganda.’ 

Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries. Some Africans see it as behavior imported from abroad and not a sexual orientation.

Police in Nigeria on Tuesday announced the detention of at least 67 people celebrating a gay wedding in one of the largest mass detentions targeting homosexuality, which is outlawed in the West African country.

Defying pressure from Western governments and rights organisations, Uganda in May enacted one of the world's harshest laws targeting the LGBT community (file image)

Defying pressure from Western governments and rights organisations, Uganda in May enacted one of the world’s harshest laws targeting the LGBT community (file image)



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