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The countries where homosexuality is still illegal, as Uganda passes death penalty bill

Protesters outside the Uganda High Commission urging President Yoweri Museveni not to sign the anti-LGBTI NGO bill in 2015 (Dinendra Haria / Shutterstock)
Protesters outside the Uganda High Commission urging President Yoweri Museveni not to sign the anti-LGBTI NGO bill in 2015 (Dinendra Haria / Shutterstock)

Uganda’s parliament has passed an amended version of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023.

Under the new proposed bill, homosexual conduct will still be illegal, but identifying as homosexual without committing homosexual acts is deemed lawful.

When it was first approved in March, the proposed legislation outraged human rights defenders.

The bill retains more extreme elements, such as the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, which includes sex with a minor, having sex while HIV positive, and incest.

The east African country has long been out of step with progressive acceptance towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community — who can face the threat of mob violence and legal action.

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Beforehand, it suggested imprisoning those who identify as LGBTQ+, but now says those who do not act on their “deviant proclivity” will not be punished by law.

Attempts to pass the bill had come up short in 2014 but the advancement this time suggests deepening anxiety around a perceived threat.

Ugandan politician David Bahati said: “Our creator God is happy [about] what is happening... I support the bill to protect the future of our children.

“This is about the sovereignty of our nation, nobody should blackmail us, nobody should intimidate us.”

His comments are markedly different from mainstream Christianity, which has become more open and accepting to the LGBT community in recent years. The Church of England announced for the first time last month it would bless same-sex couples within its buildings, while the UK and many other nations have legalised gay marriage in the past decade.

African countries Angola, Gabon, and Botswana have all legalised homosexuality and softened laws in recent years. But it is still outlawed or illegal to be gay in 70 countries — nearly half of which are in Africa. Of these, 11 have a death penalty in place.

All the countries where homosexuality is outlawed

Data provided by the Human Dignity Trust.

Afghanistan

Algeria

Antigua & Barbuda

Bangladesh

Barbados

Bhutan

Brunei

Burundi

Cameroon

Chad

Comoros

Dominica

Egypt

Eritrea

Eswatini

Ethiopia

Gambia

Ghana

Grenada

Guinea

Guyana

Iran

Jamaica

Kenya

Kiribati

Kuwait

Lebanon

Liberia

Libya

Malawi

Malaysia

Maldives

Mauritania

Mauritius

Morocco

Myanmar

Namibia

Nigeria

Occupied Palestinian Territory (Gaza Strip)

Oman

Pakistan

Papua New Guinea

Qatar

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent and The Grenadines

Samoa

Saudi Arabia

Senegal

Sierra Leone

Singapore

Solomon Islands

Somalia

South Sudan

Sri Lanka

Sudan

Syria

Tanzania

Togo

Tonga

Tunisia

Turkmenistan

Tuvalu

Uganda

United Arab Emirates

Uzbekistan

Yemen

Zambia

Zimbabwe

The article was amended on April 19, 2023, after the Cook Islands passed a decriminalising bill.