After Uganda’s parliament passed sweeping anti-gay legislation which proposes tough new penalties for same-sex relationships, following a highly charged and chaotic session, residents of the capital Kampala largely hail the bill.
The legislation enjoys broad public support in Uganda and reaction from civil society has been muted following years of erosion of civic space under Museveni’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
“The bill was passed yesterday and we are very happy as citizens of Uganda. Culturally we don’t, we don’t accept homosexuality, lesbianism, LGBTQ. We cannot. As Africans we want to produce, we want everything to run normally,” resident Abdu Mukasa says.
“The bill which had been passed, for life for those people who are interested in such a thing… Though I am a parent, children of ours are the ones doing such things… If the parliament had decided, it is ok. Because I can’t see such a child of mine doing such a thing.” added Ida Maama Wanguti Mujjwa, Kampala resident.
Legislators amended significant portions of the original draft law, with all but one speaking against the bill.
Homosexuality is already illegal in the conservative East African nation and it was not immediately clear what new penalties had been agreed upon.
MP Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, who spoke against the bill and who belongs to President Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Movement party, told AFP that under the final version of the legislation, offenders would face life imprisonment or even the death penalty for “aggravated” offences.
“This House will not shy to restrict any right to the extent the House recognises,” Among said.
The bill will next go to President Museveni, who can choose to use his veto or sign it into law.
Nevertheless, the 78-year-old leader has consistently signalled he does not view the issue as a priority and would prefer to maintain good relations with Western donors and investors.
Discussion about the bill in parliament was laced with homophobic rhetoric, with lawmakers conflating child sexual abuse with consensual same-sex activity between adults.