Expanded Criminalisation of Homosexuality in Uganda: A Flawed Narrative

A report produced by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) debunking the myths that have led to the passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill at the Parliament of Uganda in 2014, showing evidence that homophobia, not homosexuality, is the Western import to Uganda.

Under pre-existing law, Uganda criminalises consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults in private which attracts a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The Anti Homosexuality Act further criminalises the LGBTI community and their allies in Uganda, increasing penalties for certain conduct.

This report, prepared by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), explores the various attempts to rationalise expanded criminalisation of homosexuality under the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that has been passed by Parliament. The report uses scientific, historical, anthropological and comparative social data from other sub-Saharan African States to debunk the theories behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as not only factually unfounded but also essentially un-African.

The report focuses on seven myths that are being used by the Ugandan government to justify the legislation. Each section of the report scrutinises and debunks one of the seven myths:

  1. Homosexuality is alien to Africa;
  2. Homosexuality is mutable and a mental disorder;
  3. Expanded criminalisation is necessary to protect the traditional African family unit;
  4. Expanded criminalisation is necessary to maintain strong religious convictions;
  5. Expanded criminalisation will help prevent the spread of HIV;
  6. Expanded criminalisation will help prevent child abuse; and
  7. Gay and lesbian persons are asking for special rights and privileges.

SMUG’s report addresses these seven so-called justifications of expanded criminalisation in Uganda, by way of an evidence-based comparative analysis with other African States that either do not currently or have never criminalised homosexuality. It also demonstrates that it is homophobia, not homosexuality that is a foreign import. The report concludes with alternatives to criminalisation to target concerns regarding sexual offences, child sexual exploitation and public health.

Download the report