A protest has taken place outside Uganda’s High Commission in central London amid fears the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill could soon become law.
Dozens of activists and supporters turned out for the event on Wednesday afternoon near Trafalgar Square. Many held placards calling for an end to state-sponsored homophobia in Uganda.
The protest was jointly organised by the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“The British Government and world leaders should speak out and demand immediate action from the Ugandan Government to end the criminalisation of homosexuality,” said Richard Banadda, coordinator of the protest.
“This legislation is scaring away foreign investors, expatriates, tourists and foreign donors, who dislike the bigoted atmosphere. Some are fearful that they could be blackmailed and prosecuted under this bill and under the existing draconian sections 145, 146 and 148 of the penal code. Disinvestment will affect innocent Ugandans economically.
“President Museveni prides himself as a liberator and a protector of all Ugandans. This bill neither liberates nor protects any individual,” said Edwin Sesange, director of the African LGBTI organisation Out & Proud Diamond Group.
George Dhabangi, a trustee of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, added: “The Ugandan Government should stop meddling with what two consenting adults do in private, as long as they don’t interfere with the rights and freedoms of other people. It is none of the business of the state.”
It extends the current penalty of life imprisonment for anal sex to all other same-sex acts, even mere kissing and touching. The law introduces jail terms of five to seven years for promoting homosexuality, including advocating LGBT rights or assisting LGBT people or events.
However, President Museveni is facing intense pressure from Ugandan MPs to sign the bill.
It is possible for parliamentary supporters of the bill to bypass the need for presidential approval if a further vote is tabled. They require a two-thirds majority.