Two Men Face Execution Under Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law

Uganda Enforces Strict Anti Gay Law 20 Year Old Charged and Could Face Execution
PHOTO - Death Penalty Looms for Two Ugandan Men Accused of Violating Anti-Gay Law
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In a recent development in Uganda, two men are facing potential execution due to their alleged violations of the country’s new anti-homosexuality law. This law, which has stirred widespread controversy, marks the return of the death penalty to Uganda for cases categorized as aggravated homosexuality.

Julius Byaruhanga, located in the eastern district of Jinja, stands accused of engaging in a sexual act with a 12-year-old boy. In a separate incident, 20-year-old Michael Opolot is charged with committing an unlawful sexual act with a 41-year-old man in the eastern city of Soroti.

Justine Balya, a lawyer from the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, is defending Opolot. She highlights that her client was reportedly seen involved in a sexual act in a public setting with an individual who has a disability. If found guilty under the anti-homosexuality law, Opolot could potentially face the death penalty. This law, enacted in June, significantly impacts the legal protections available to individuals awaiting trial, essentially making pre-trial detention a form of punishment in itself.

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Due to the capital nature of the offense, Opolot may have to endure a prolonged wait of three to four years before his case is heard. Balya also notes that there are several other cases related to alleged homosexuality awaiting trial in Ugandan courts. One such case involves a woman charged with promoting homosexuality and homosexuality based on allegations concerning activities at her massage parlor. Additionally, there are numerous cases where individuals have been formally charged with homosexuality, promotion of homosexuality, and even child grooming.

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Frank Mugisha, a lawyer and activist, asserts that these cases reflect a targeted persecution of lesbian, gay, and transgender individuals. He emphasizes that these individuals had not openly identified themselves as LGBTQ+, yet assumptions about their involvement in same-sex acts have led to severe legal consequences. Mugisha argues that such misinterpretations of the law were a central concern voiced by activists when the legislation was enacted.

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It is worth noting that Uganda last executed a convict in 1999 and officially abolished the death penalty in 2005. However, the recent anti-homosexuality law has reinstated the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality, a development met with strong opposition and legal challenges from gay rights activists.

During the enactment of this law, government authorities justified it by claiming to protect the moral values and principles of Ugandan society, countering what they saw as corrupt Western values. Meanwhile, journalists and media organizations in Uganda express apprehension about facing heavy fines or losing their registration if they are deemed to be “promoting homosexuality,” a term that critics argue has not been adequately defined within the law.

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