In May, Uganda passed a strict law called the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), which has sparked concerns among human rights activists. The law includes severe penalties, such as the death penalty, for specific same-sex acts. Since its enactment, at least six individuals, including two accused of “aggravated homosexuality,” have faced charges under this law. Human rights groups report a surge in abuses against LGBTQ individuals, primarily carried out by private citizens.
A recent report released by the Convening for Equality (CFE) coalition reveals that private individuals have been responsible for most of the human rights violations against LGBTQ people in Uganda this year. These violations encompass various forms of abuse, such as torture, rape, arrest, and eviction. According to the report, this trend indicates that the law, along with the widespread homophobic rhetoric that preceded it, has contributed to radicalizing the public against the LGBTQ community.
Mob-aided arrests have become increasingly common, as LGBTQ+ individuals are targeted due to the AHA, turning them into “persons of interest” in the eyes of the public, who often take it upon themselves to enforce the law.
Between January 1 and August 31, researchers documented 306 rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, with state actors responsible for 25 of these cases. In contrast, previous reports from 2020 and 2021 indicated that state actors were responsible for nearly 70 percent of the documented rights violations. The report did not provide comparative figures for 2022.
The report also highlighted 18 instances in which the police conducted forced anal examinations on individuals in custody to collect “evidence” of homosexuality, a practice strongly condemned by human rights advocates.
It is worth noting that the report acknowledges that its statistics may not be exhaustive, as LGBTQ individuals face significant challenges when reporting violations. The law’s climate of fear and intimidation has also led to a rise in mental health issues within the LGBTQ community, including thoughts of suicide.
Since its enactment in May, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act has faced international criticism. In response to the law, the United States imposed travel restrictions on Ugandan officials in June, and in August, the World Bank announced a pause in project financing for the country.