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A Ugandan couple covers themselves with a Pride flag


Uncredited / dpa

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has signed a controversial law against homosexual acts, which makes it possible to sentence them to death in certain cases. The international community is dismayed and announces consequences.

The law in Uganda provides for the death penalty for homosexuals convicted of rape or sexual intercourse with minors or disabled people. People or groups who stand up for homosexuals, such as LGBT activists, can be punished with up to 20 years in prison.

LGBT is the English abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The LGBTQ variant is also often used. Other variants are LGBTQI or LGBTQIA+. Each letter represents one's gender identity or sexual orientation.

Just over a month ago, Museveni returned a first version of the law to parliament. He was concerned that the law could be legally challenged. In its original version, it would also have criminalized homosexuals who voluntarily seek medical treatment. Parliament has now changed this aspect.

Discrimination, hatred and prejudice against LGBT people

Even before the signing, the effects were felt, said Ugandan LGBT activist Sam Ganafa. Hospitals would turn away homosexuals for fear of being harassed by the government. "This is sad news. Our people have to hide again," Ganafa told the German Press Agency.

German Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) said the law violated "fundamental human rights to which Uganda is committed and which are enshrined in the Charter of the African Union". In its talks with the Ugandan Government, the German Government has made clear its opposition to the legislation and pointed out the damage to social cohesion and Uganda's international reputation. "In addition to the blatant contempt for human dignity, the law also has an impact on the work of international partners on the ground, which we must now examine together," Schulze said.

Human rights group Amnesty International said the new law would further entrench discrimination, hatred and prejudice against LGBT people in Uganda.

Biden is considering sanctions

US President Joe Biden called for the "immediate repeal of the law". No one should be exposed to constant fear for their life or violence and discrimination. Some Ugandans have already been evicted from their homes or fired from their jobs. Now there is a threat of long prison sentences, violence and abuse, Biden said.

The U.S. Security Council will reassess the bill's impact on all aspects of U.S. involvement in Uganda, including the U.S. president's emergency plan to aid AIDS and the Agoa trade agreement, which guarantees Uganda duty-free access for thousands of goods into the U.S. market.

In addition, he is considering sanctions and entry restrictions to the United States against anyone involved in serious human rights violations or corruption, Biden said. According to its own figures, the US government invests almost 1 billion dollars (the equivalent of about 933 million euros) annually in Uganda. Uganda's progress in the fight against HIV is now seriously threatened, said the UN Programme to Combat the Immunodeficiency Disease AIDS (UNAIDS).

The Netherlands is limiting its support for the East African country in response to the discriminatory Ugandan law. Grants for a program to promote the rule of law in the amount of 25 million euros will be suspended, as reported by the ANP news agency. This was decided by the Minister responsible for development cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher.