Uganda anti-LGBTQ2 law blasted by Canada, allies: ‘Abhorrent’

Click to play video: 'Canada could reassess Ugandan refugee claims amid harsh new anti-gay laws'
Canada could reassess Ugandan refugee claims amid harsh new anti-gay laws
WATCH: Pride Month has begun just days after Uganda passed some of the world's harshest anti-gay laws. Redmond Shannon explains what's considered a crime, the punishment, how members of Uganda's LGBTQ2 community are looking to flee, and why the new legislation will affect how some Ugandan refugee claims are assessed in Canada – Jun 1, 2023

Canada and allies are slamming Uganda‘s newly-enacted anti-gay law, calling it “abhorrent” and urging the law to be revoked.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the law this week — one of the world’s harshest anti-LGBTQ2 laws — which includes the death penalty for what the law describes as “aggravated homosexuality.”

According to reports by Reuters and The Associated Press, this term includes LGBTQ2 people having sex with a minor or when the accused has a lifelong illness like HIV.

As well, any sexual relations between LGBTQ2 people can result in life in prison under the law.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet on Monday that Canada’s stance had not changed since it first criticized the bill when it passed in March of this year.

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“This law is appalling and abhorrent, and we strongly condemn it,” Trudeau wrote. “We’ll continue to stand with 2SLGBTQI+ people – and stand up for 2SLGBTQI+ rights – at home and abroad.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement that it was a “blatant violation” of human rights, adding that Canada would work with partners in the region to support communities impacted by the law.

“No one should live in fear or be persecuted for who they are and who they love,” she wrote in a tweet.

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Joly was just one of several politicians to express their opposition to the bill, with U.S. President Joe Biden warning of sanctions against Uganda due to the law.

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“This shameful act is the latest development in an alarming trend of human rights abuses and corruption in Uganda,” Biden said in a statement.

He added he had directed the National Security Council to evaluate the implications of the law on all aspects of engagement with the U.S. According to the statement, it includes the U.S.’ ability to safely deliver services under the president’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Other U.S. politicians also expressed apparent disgust at the law, with Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz calling it “horrific and wrong,” and called on other countries to speak out against it.

“Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is grotesque & an abomination,” he wrote on Twitter.

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When the original version of the bill first passed in March, with little opposition from lawmakers, Human Rights Watch said it was the first ever to criminalize simply identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

Other human rights activists also expressed concern the law would target gay Ugandans, who already face common threats of mob violence.

Under the law, friends and family would even have a duty to report suspected homosexual activity to police. The law now in place appears to have reduced targeting of LGBTQ2 people for existing and focuses on targeting LGBTQ2 sexual acts.

Ugandan officials have described the law as one needed to “protect our church culture; the legal, religious and traditional family values of Ugandans from the acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country.”

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The British government said Monday it was “appalled” by the law, adding it remained firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances.

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“It will increase the risk of violence, discrimination and persecution, will set back the fight against HIV/AIDS, and will damage Uganda’s international reputation,” Andrew Mitchell, a minister in the foreign office department, said in a statement.

The European Union’s policy chief Josep Borrell warned the Ugandan law goes against international human rights law and would also impact the country’s ties with global partners, saying it was contrary to Uganda’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

“The Ugandan government has an obligation to protect all of its citizens and uphold their basic rights,” he told reporters.

With the passage of the Ugandan law, there is concern among some opponents about the impact it may have on other African countries passing similar laws.

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Supporters of a similar bill in Ghana say it could examine Uganda’s in the construction of the legislation.

“We don’t know all the elements of their law, so that’s an area of learning we can look at,”  said Edem Senanu, chairperson of “Advocates for Christ Ghana. “It’s not an anti-LGBTQ law, if you take Ghana’s perspective. It’s anti-LGBTQ practices. There are certain practices that we are concerned about.”

Other opponents of the Ugandan bill, including those in Ghana, criticized it, saying sexuality is part of “everything that makes us Africans.”

“To think that a president, who is supposed to protect all of his citizens, is today signing away part of his population to this level of disrepute — I think that says more about him than it does about Ugandans,” Alex Kofi Donkor, the founder of LGBT+ Rights Ghana told Reuters.

More than 30 countries in Africa currently deem same-sex relations illegal.

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