The draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed by Uganda’s parliament on 20 December would deliver a major blow to the response to HIV/AIDS if it was enacted by President Yoweri Museveni, activists have warned.
Those found guilty of homosexual acts can be jailed for up to 14 years under the new law, a sentence that increases to life in “aggravated” cases, such as those committed by an HIV positive person, or those involving minors, the disabled and serious offenders.
Civil society activists fear that high-risk groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers – whose HIV prevalence is 13.7 and 33 percent respectively – will see their already limited access to prevention and treatment further eroded.
Amnesty International called the law “a grave assault on human rights [which] makes a mockery of the Ugandan constitution.
“President Museveni should avoid the trap of scapegoating a vulnerable minority in the interests of short-term political gain,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“He should recognize that this repugnant bill is of no benefit to Ugandans – that it only serves to jeopardize basic rights – and reject it.”
The United States government has also called for the bill not to be enacted.