Uganda’s anti-gay law causing wave of rights abuses, activists say

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On Thursday, several rights organizations reported that the discussion and adoption of one of the world’s strictest anti-gay laws by the government of Uganda has unleashed a flood of violence against LGBTQ persons. Private individuals have done these abuses for the most part.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), passed into law in May, calls for the execution of anybody found guilty of specified crimes of same-sex cohabitation. At least six individuals have been charged due to it, including two individuals suspected of the death offense of “aggravated homosexuality.”

However, according to the study produced by a Convening for Equality (CFE) alliance committee, the primary perpetrators of human rights abuses against LGBTQ persons this year were private individuals. These abuses included things like torture, rape, arrest, and eviction.

It was stated that this demonstrated how the legislation and the pervasive homophobic language that preceded its approval earlier in the year had polarized the public against the LGBTQ population. This rhetoric preceded the bill’s adoption earlier in the year.

For instance, the study stated that arrests facilitated by mobs had become increasingly regular “because AHA has put LGBTIQ+ persons on the spot as persons of interest, and the public seems to be the custodians of enforcing the witch hunt.”

Researchers identified 306 rights breaches based on the victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity between January 1 and August 31, with state actors being the culprits in 25 cases. The research was conducted between January 1 and August 31.

On the other hand, according to reports compiled by activists for human rights in 2020 and 2021, state actors were to blame for about 70% of the human rights breaches reported during those years. The study does not include any comparable statistics for the year 2022.

Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of Information in Uganda, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The authors of the study stated that they had recorded 18 cases in which the police conducted forced anal exams of persons who were in their custody to obtain “evidence” of homosexuality. These examinations aimed to determine whether or not the individual was gay.

“Surviving a forced anal examination at police is something that lives with you forever,” one survivor said in the article.

Fred Enanga, a spokesperson for the police department, stated that he had not yet read the report and hence was unable to comment.

Given the challenges LGBTQ persons encounter in reporting infractions, the study emphasized that its data could not be considered thorough.

According to the report, the law has unleashed an environment of fear and intimidation, which has led to an increase in cases of mental health issues, including suicide ideation, among members of the LGBTQ community.

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