Uganda’s top court is hearing challenges this week against its harsh anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, which has drawn global condemnation. The law, which is one of the strictest in the world against homosexuals and could result in the death penalty, prompted President Joe Biden to remove Uganda from a tariff-free trade agreement with the U.S. The World Bank also paused funds to the nation.
Gay Ugandans face persecution from government-sanctioned mobs
The law has triggered rampant human rights abuses in Uganda. The government-sanctioned rhetoric has mobilized the public, resulting in mob-led arrests of Ugandans suspected of being part of the LGBTQ+ community. “The public seems to be the custodians of enforcing the witch hunt,” the authors of a report into rising anti-gay rhetoric noted in September. The law is also taking a mental health toll: LGBTQ+ Ugandans are reporting higher suicidal feelings. Gay Ugandans are fleeing the country, journalist Raymond Mujuni reported in The New Humanitarian. Inside the country, they’re without a safe haven after the legislation went into effect, with shelters dismantled quickly and landlords urged to report gay people to the authorities. “Wherever we have been renting, they have been chasing us,” one man told Mujuni.
Tourists stay away from Uganda
The draconian law has had widespread consequences for the Ugandan economy. In addition to allies withholding funding, tourism has dipped substantially. One travel agent told The New York Times that business had dropped dramatically after Kampala adopted the law this summer. More than two thirds of clients “ghosted me,” the travel agent said, with a few explaining that they didn’t feel safe traveling to Uganda. That sentiment is echoed across the hospitality industry and among textile makers, whose clients fear that “Made in Uganda” tags will be bad for business.
West’s “culture warriors” push anti-gay agenda in Africa
The push by Ugandan officials to criminalize homosexuality does not have roots solely in Africa: Some believe that it is part of an international push by conservative groups to establish laws limiting or prohibiting LGBTQ rights in African nations. While Western governments appease more liberal voters by asserting LGBTQ+ rights in their countries, “the West’s conservative culture warriors are also pushing their ideas in Africa, feeding a moral panic in societies where homophobia is already routine,” The Economist wrote.