The Government has condemned Uganda’s new anti-gay legislation – calling it “appalling” and “deeply discriminatory”.
The Bill was signed into law by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday, sparking international condemnation.
The new law does not criminalise those who identify as LGBTQ but still prescribes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, which is defined as cases of sexual relations involving people infected with HIV as well as with minors and other categories of vulnerable people.
A suspect convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” can be jailed for up to 14 years, according to the legislation.
International development minister Andrew Mitchell said: “Democracy depends on the guarantee of equal rights under law and freedom from discrimination for everyone in society.
“This legislation undermines the protections and freedoms of all Ugandans enshrined in the Ugandan constitution.
“It will increase the risk of violence, discrimination and persecution, will set back the fight against HIV/Aids, and will damage Uganda’s international reputation.”
Citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mr Mitchell said: “Everyone is entitled to human rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind.
“The recognition of these inherent rights has been hard-won by citizens across the globe.
“The strongest, safest and most prosperous societies are those in which everyone can live freely, without fear of violence or discrimination, and where all citizens are treated fairly and can play a full and active part in society.
“The UK is firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances.”
Mr Mitchell said the UK will “continue to stand up for these rights and freedoms in Uganda and around the world”.
Joe Biden also made his opposition to Uganda’s new law clear, calling it “a tragic violation of universal human rights”.
In a statement, the US President said he joins people “around the world – including many in Uganda – in calling for its immediate repeal”.
“No one should have to live in constant fear for their life or being subjected to violence and discrimination. It is wrong,” he said.
“This shameful act is the latest development in an alarming trend of human rights abuses and corruption in Uganda.
“The dangers posed by this democratic backsliding are a threat to everyone residing in Uganda, including US government personnel, the staff of our implementing partners, tourists, members of the business community, and others.”
Flavia Mwangovya, Amnesty International’s east and southern Africa deputy director, called it a “desperately dark day”.
“The signing of this deeply repressive law is a grave assault on human rights and the constitution of Uganda and the regional and international human rights instruments to which Uganda is a party.
“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill will do nothing other than enshrine discrimination, hatred and prejudice against LGBTI Ugandans and their allies into law.”
She said Amnesty International was calling on the international community to “urgently put pressure on the Ugandan government to protect the rights of LGBTI persons in the country”.