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Ugandan Faces Aggravated Homosexuality Charge Stemming From Controversial Anti-LGBTQ+ Law
Ugandan faces potential death penalty in landmark LGBTQ+ case stemming from the country's controversial anti-gay law, sparking global outcry and legal challenges.
A 20-year-old Ugandan man has found himself at the center of a groundbreaking legal case, becoming the first individual in Uganda to be charged with "aggravated homosexuality." This grave accusation, carrying the potential for the death penalty, comes as a result of the nation's newly enforced anti-LGBTQ+ law. Prosecutors and the defendant's attorney confirmed the charge.
Despite immense international pressure from Western governments and human rights organizations, Uganda implemented one of the world's most severe anti-LGBTQ+ laws in May. This legislation prescribes a life sentence for consensual same-sex relations. The death penalty looms for cases deemed "aggravated," which encompass repeat offenses, same-sex acts leading to the transmission of terminal illnesses, or engagement in such acts with minors, elderly individuals, or persons with disabilities.
The defendant was formally charged with aggravated homosexuality on August 18, following alleged involvement in "illicit sexual activity" with a 41-year-old man. However, specific details leading to the "aggravated" classification were not explicitly delineated in the charge document reviewed by Reuters.
Jacqueline Okui, spokesperson for the office of the director of public prosecutions, confirmed that the defendant was apprised of the capital charge within a Magistrate's Court on August 18, citing the charge's jurisdiction within the High Court. Subsequently, the defendant was remanded in custody. Okui refrained from offering additional insights into the ongoing case, noting that no prior instances of aggravated homosexuality charges were within her knowledge.
This incident adds to a recent surge in arrests related to alleged same-sex activities in Uganda.
The individual charged with aggravated homosexuality appeared in court on August 18 in Soroti, located in the eastern part of the country, as reported by Jacquelyn Okui, spokesperson for the state prosecutors, to AFP. He will remain in custody until his case is heard by the High Court, given the capital nature of the offense.
His attorney, Justine Balya, expressed that Uganda's anti-gay laws are unconstitutional and are currently the subject of legal challenges. She refrained from disclosing further details about the case, except for confirming that it marks the first instance of an aggravated homosexuality charge being brought before the courts.
While Uganda has not carried out an execution since 2005, capital punishment remains a legal option. President Yoweri Museveni had previously threatened to resume executions in 2018 to combat a surge in crime.
The enactment of the law three months ago drew international condemnation and threats of sanctions. Recently, the World Bank suspended new public financing to Uganda in response to this legislation. Additionally, the United States has imposed visa restrictions on certain Ugandan officials, and President Joe Biden initiated a review of U.S. aid to Uganda. The legal battle surrounding Uganda's anti-LGBTQ+ laws continues to unfold, with implications reaching far beyond the nation's borders.
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