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Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act challenged in court

Uganda's LGBTQ rights activists regard the law as draconian, and want it scrapped credit: BBC

One of the world's harshest anti-homosexuality laws is being challenged in the Ugandan courts by rights groups.

The law has caused global outrage, with the World Bank halting new loans to Uganda and the US imposing visa restrictions on key officials.

Anyone convicted of being involved in homosexual acts face life imprisonment under the law which was enacted in May.

Rights groups have asked judges to annul the law, arguing that it violated the right to equality and dignity.

The government is defending the case in the Constitutional Court, saying the law protects traditional family values.

Known as the Anti-Homosexuality Act, the law imposes the death penalty for so-called "aggravated" cases, which include having gay sex with someone below the age of 18 or where someone is infected with a life-long illness such as HIV.

An overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted for it in parliament, and it came into effect after President Yoweri Museveni approved it.

In August, a 20-year-old was the first to be charged with "aggravated homosexuality" after being accused of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 41-year-old.

No further details were given of the case, which was expected to be heard in the High Court as it involved an alleged capital offence.

Uganda has not carried out an execution since 2005.

A recent report by rights groups said that more than 300 human rights abuses have been recorded against LGBTQ+ people in Uganda in the first eight months of this year - including beatings, torture, arrests and evictions from homes.

The US has responded to the legislation by saying that Ugandan goods will stop receiving preferential access to its markets from next year because of its human rights record.

Uganda's government has remained defiant, saying it will not bow to foreign pressure.

Many people in Uganda are socially conservative, and support the legislation.

© 2023 BBC


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