The law went into effect in May after garnering support from Members of Parliament (Picture: AP)In a groundbreaking development, a young individual in Uganda has been indicted with ‘aggravated homosexuality’ – an offense that carries the death penalty.
Considered one of the most severe legislations globally in terms of targeting the LGBTQ community, the law was implemented in May following the approval of a bill by Members of Parliament earlier this year.
Little is known about the 20-year-old who was accused in the city of Soroti on August 18 and is currently in custody.
According to the charge sheet, the defendant is alleged to have engaged in ‘illicit sexual activity’ with a 41-year-old man.
Julius Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), delivers a speech during their protest against the bill criminalizing homosexuality outside the Ugandan High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa (Picture: AP)However, it was not specified why the act was deemed aggravated.
Jacqueline Okui, spokesperson for the office of the director of public prosecutions, stated: ‘Since it is a capital offense, which is triable by the High Court, the charge was read out and explained to him in the Magistrate’s Court on August 18 and he was detained.’
She mentioned that she was unaware of any previous cases involving charges of aggravated homosexuality.
Meanwhile, the defendant’s attorney, Justine Balya, emphasized that the entire law was unconstitutional.
Ugandan John Musila, an MP, enters Parliament wearing clothes displaying an anti-LGBTQ message (Picture: AP)The law has already been contested in court, but the judges have yet to hear the case.
Ms. Balya stated that four other individuals have been charged under the law in the past three months, and her client is the first to face prosecution for aggravated homosexuality.
However, she declined to discuss the specific details of his case.
Certain LGBTQ Ugandans have sought refuge in neighboring countries such as Kenya, where safe havens still exist, despite also facing acts of homophobia.
Geoffrey, a human rights activist and executive director of Pro-LGBTIQ Kenya, stated: ‘Even before the president signed the “kill the gays bill” in Uganda, many LGBTQ individuals were leading miserable lives, as safe havens had been closed down.
‘Many are currently homeless, some have been arrested or subjected to mob justice, others are fleeing the country for their own safety, and our fundraising efforts have thus far assisted some individuals in seeking asylum here in Kenya.
‘Once they arrive at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya, they can await resettlement to safer countries by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which is a lengthy process.’
Uganda has not executed anyone in approximately two decades, although capital punishment has not been abolished.
In 2018, President Yoweri Museveni threatened to resume executions in order to curb a surge in crime.
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Originally published at First Ugandan charged under anti-LGBTQ law may face death penalty