Ugandan lawmakers, defying criticism from human rights groups, have introduced legislation in parliament that proposes harsh new penalties for same-sex relationships in a country where homosexuality is already illegal.
Annet Anita Among, the speaker of parliament, referred the bill to a house committee for scrutiny, the first step in an accelerated process to pass the proposal into law.
The bill comes as conspiracy theories accusing shadowy international forces of promoting homosexuality gain traction on social media in conservative Uganda.
Under the proposed law, anyone who engages in same-sex activity or who “holds out” as LGBTQ could face up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
It is unclear how long the parliamentary process could take.
Uganda is notorious for intolerance of homosexuality which is criminalised under colonial-era laws and strict Christian views on sexuality in general.
But since independence from Britain in 1962 there has never been a conviction for consensual same-sex activity.
According to rights groups, the law would result in more persecution of a vulnerable minority group.
Ugandan lawmakers passed a bill in 2014 that called for life in prison for anyone caught having gay sex, but the law was later overturned by a court.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the new legislation was “a revised and more egregious version” of the 2014 bill.
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