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House Democrats introduce resolution condemning Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” law

Congressman Mark Takano of California's 41st District (D/CA-41)
Congressman Mark Takano of California's 41st District Photo: Official Congressional Portrait

Last week, out Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) and Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) led a group of nearly two dozen members of Congress in condemning Uganda’s horrific Anti-Homosexuality Act.

On Wednesday, June 26, Takano and Beatty introduced a House resolution condemning the law, which has been described as one of the most extreme examples of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the world, and called upon the East African nation’s government to repeal it.

“The House of Representatives condemns the government of Uganda’s criminalization and draconian punishments regarding consensual same-sex sexual conduct and so-called ‘promotion of homosexuality,’” the resolution reads.

Signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni last May, the Anti-Homosexuality Act made what is described in the law as “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by the death penalty, imposed a life sentence for “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities,” and even banned identifying as LGBTQ+.

In April, nearly a year after it went into effect, Uganda’s Constitutional Court ruled against parts of the law — including a provision that made it a crime to fail to report homosexual acts to authorities — but upheld its draconian punishments for LGBTQ+ people. Ugandan LGBTQ+ activists have appealed the ruling.

The law has drawn international condemnation. Following its enactment last May, President Joe Biden called for the law to be repealed, and in December, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the expansion of a 2021 visa restriction policy aimed at “those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda” to cover those responsible “for policies or actions aimed at repressing members of marginalized or vulnerable populations” including the country’s LGBTQ+ community.

In January the U.S. removed Uganda from the list of nations eligible to benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows eligible sub-Saharan African nations to export over 1,800 products to the U.S. duty-free. Last August, the World Bank Group suspended new loans to the East African nation, saying that the law contradicts the group’s values.  

“It is difficult to overstate the gross inhumanity of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act,” Takano said in a June 27 press release. “Instead of focusing on rooting out corruption or ending extrajudicial killings, the Ugandan Parliament, president, and Constitutional Court have chosen to mark LGBTQ+ Ugandans as less than human.”

“Congress must not be silent in the face of such systematic, state-sponsored discrimination,” Takano continued. “To all those LGBTQ+ people and your allies in Uganda — we see you. We and the Biden administration will not allow this terrible violation of basic dignity to go unchallenged.”

In the same press release, Beatty said that Museveni and the Ugandan Parliament had signaled to the country’s LGBTQ+ people “that there is no place in the country that they will be safe from persecution.”

“This draconian law stands in clear violation of universal human rights and has already resulted in catastrophic personal outcomes for LGBTQI+ Ugandans, further discouraging them from seeking vital health services and facilitating a culture that supports state-sponsored violence,” Beatty said.

As Beatty noted, healthcare providers in Uganda have already reported that the law’s prohibition on “promoting” homosexuality has made it nearly impossible for them to provide care tailored to LGBTQ+ people’s needs, while at the same time LGBTQ+ people are now far less likely to seek that care for fear of being exposed and prosecuted.

Takano and Beatty were joined in introducing the resolution by Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI), Ritchie Torres (NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Becca Balint (VT), Lloyd Doggett (TX), Adriano Espaillat (NY), Robert Garcia (CA), Sylvia Garcia (TX), Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Hank Johnson (GA), Gwen Moore (WI), Seth Moulton (MA), Jerry Nadler (NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Mark Pocan (WA), Delia Ramirez (IL), Linda Sánchez (CA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), and Brad Sherman (CA).

The resolution, Beatty said, “shows that members of the United States Congress stand with LGBTQI+ Ugandans and demands immediate repeal of this unjust law so that all Ugandans can lead safe, healthy lives free from fear.”

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Ben Bowman became Oregon House Majority Leader at age 31. He wants to bring people together.

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