LGBT rights in Uganda

From Susan's Place Transgender Resources
Jump to: navigation, search
LGBT rights in Uganda
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Illegal[1]
Up to life imprisonment[1]
Gender identity/expression -

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) persons in Uganda face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are illegal in Uganda.

Homosexuality is regarded as a taboo in Uganda (as it is in many other parts of Africa), a country whose LGBT population is estimated to be 500,000.[2] According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project poll in 2007, 96% of Ugandans said that homosexuality should be rejected by society, making it one of the highest rejection of homosexuality in the 45 countries surveyed.[3] A poll conducted in 2010, however, in the wake of Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill, revealed that 11% of Ugandans viewed homosexuality as being morally acceptable, while only 2% of respondents (per country) in Cameroon, Kenya, and Zambia found homosexuality to be morally acceptable.[4]

A new bill has been introduced to parliament, providing for harsher penalties for homosexuals, including the death penalty for repeat offenders.

Ugandan Constitution

On 12 September 2008, in a case against the Attorney General of Uganda, brought by GLBT activists Yvonne Oyoo and Juliet Mukasa, the High Court through High Court Judge Stella Arach set a precedent and stated affirmatively that at least articles 23, 24 and 27 of articles 20 to 45 of the Ugandan Constitution do apply to the GLBT community.[5]

Laws against homosexuality

Homosexuality has been referred to as "carnal knowledge of another against the order of nature" by the Ugandan government.[6]

Penal Code Act 1950 (revised)

  • § 145 (sexually neutral)

“Any person who— (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life.”

  • § 148 (sexually neutral)

“Any person who, whether in public or in private, commits any act of gross indecency with another person or procures another person to commit any act of gross indecency with him or her or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any person with himself or herself or with another person, whether in public or in private, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.”

Other: § 146 prohibits “attempts“ to commit offence specified in § 145 [7 years]

According to Jessica Stern of Human Rights Watch, "For years, President Yoweri Museveni's government routinely threatens and vilifies lesbians and gays, and subjects sexual rights activists to harassment."[7] The U.S. State Department's 2006 Country Report on Human Rights for Uganda stated that homosexuals "faced widespread discrimination and legal restrictions." It is illegal for homosexuals to engage in sexual acts; the maximum sentence for engaging in such acts is life imprisonment.[8][2]

Note: Prior to 2000, only male homosexuality was criminalized, then in 2000 under the Penal Code Amendment (Gender References) Act 2000 all references to "any male" was changed to "any person" so that lesbianism was also criminalized as well.

Living conditions

Gays and lesbians face discrimination and harassment at the hands of the media, police, teachers, and other groups; in fact, a Ugandan newspaper, The Red Pepper, published a list of allegedly gay men, many of whom suffered harassment as a result.[9]

Radio Simba was fined over $1,000 and forced to issue a public apology after hosting homosexuals on a live talk show; Information Minister Nsaba Buturo said the measure reflected Ugandans' wish to uphold "God's moral values." "We are not going to give them the opportunity to recruit others," he added.[10]

Earlier that year, Human Rights Watch reported that Uganda's "abstinence-until-marriage" HIV programs "intrinsically discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation."[11]

Ban on same-sex marriages

On September 29, 2005, President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, making Uganda the second country in the world to do so.[12] According to the amendment, “marriage is lawful only if entered into between a man and a woman,” and “it is unlawful for same-sex couples to marry".[13]

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

On October 13, 2009 Ugandan MP David Bahati introduced the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would broaden the criminilization of same-sex relationships in Uganda, introducing the death penalty for repeat convictions, HIV-positive people engaging in sexual activity with people of the same sex or with those under 18.[14] Under this bill, individuals or companies promoting LGBT rights would be penalized, Ugandan citizens would be required to report any homosexual activity within 24 hours or face a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment, and Uganda would request extradition if Ugandan citizens were having same-sex relationships outside the country.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ottosson, Daniel (May 2008). State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults Page 41. International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). Retrieved on 2009-05-05.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Ugandans hold anti-gay sex rally" BBC News, August 21, 2007. Accessed on August 21, 2007.
  3. The Pew Global Project Attitudes, Washington, DC: PewResearchCenter, October 4, 2007, <>. Retrieved on 2009-12-07
  5. "Human Rights Victory: Ugandan Transgender, Lesbian, and Gay human rights upheld in the high court of Uganda"
  6. "Homosexuality in Africa" BBC News, June 28, 2002. Accessed on August 21, 2007.
  7. "Ugandan 'gay' name list condemned" BBC News, September 8, 2006. Accessed on August 21, 2007.
  8. "Uganda" Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2006. United States Department of State. Accessed on August 21, 2007.
  9. "Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people" Amnesty International Report 2007 Uganda. Accessed on August 21, 2007.
  10. "Fine for Ugandan radio gay show" BBC News, October 3, 2004. Accessed on August 21, 2007.
  11. "The Less They Know, the Better Abstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda" Human Rights Watch. March 2005. Accessed on August 21, 2007.
  12. "Uganda's Targeting of Gays and Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Condemned" Behind the Mask (African LGBT rights group). October 12, 2005. Accessed on January 29, 2008.
  13. "Uganda: Press Homophobia Raises Fears of Crackdown" Government Campaign Against Gay and Lesbian Community Escalates Human Rights Watch. September 8, 2006. Accessed on August 21, 2007.
  14. Geen, Jessica. "Ugandan MP proposes that gays should be executed", Pink News, 15 October 2009. Retrieved on 21 October 2009. 

External links


*Some information provided in whole or in part by