Uganda is among the latest countries to turn up the legal temperature on its LGBTQ+ populations. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa offer lessons on how to hold the ground on sexual health and rights.
In May, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the ‘Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023' into law - a particularly brutal twist on decades' worth of legislation tightening the screws on sexual minorities.
Uganda's criminal code already penalizes same-sex conduct with life imprisonment, but the new law adds provisions including up to 20 years in prison for ‘promoting homosexuality' and the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality'.
In addition to the law's direct effects - LGBTQ+ individuals arrested, abused or in exile and the closure of NGOs providing support and advocacy - the vaguely worded legislation gives licence to community violence and has profound implications for Uganda's once-vaunted HIV response.
A country that was on track to meet international targets on prevention, testing and treatment of HIV is now seeing clinics shutting down because those at risk - particularly men who have sex with men and trans individuals - are afraid to seek services.
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