Uganda’s new anti-gay law, which carries life sentences and even the death penalty for those who identify as members of the LGBTQI+ community, has continued to spark strong reactions from the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America – who explained that if it is implemented, there will be “consequences” – and non-governmental organizations yesterday Wednesday.

“The adoption of this discriminatory law, possibly one of the worst of its kind in the world, is a deeply worrying development,” said UN High Commissioner Volker Turk.

“If signed by the president and put into effect, it will turn lesbians, gays and bisexuals into criminals simply because they exist, because they are who they are. It will give a blank check to the systematic violation of almost all their human rights and help turn one man against another,” he added.

Anti-gay legislation was already in place in the East African country, but the new bill passed by parliament on Tuesday night provides draconian penalties.

The text, which remains to be signed by President Yoweri Museveni, allows those found guilty of “distinguished homosexuality” to be sentenced to death. Those who engage in “homosexual acts” face life in prison. Those who even attempt to have same-sex relationships will face years in prison.

While those who knowingly support, offer medical treatment, or legal assistance to members of the LGBTI+ community will also face jail and prison terms.

The US government has warned that if the law goes into effect, there will be “consequences”.

“We have serious concerns about the approval of the anti-homosexuality law passed by the Ugandan parliament (…) and the increasing violence against members of the LGBTI+ community,” White House spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre emphasized. He described the law, which targets sexual minorities, as “the most extreme in the world”.

The spokesman for the US presidency’s National Security Council, John Kirby, warned that there would be “consequences”, possibly “financial”, if the Ugandan government implemented the law.

Mr Museveni, 78, is expected to sign the law.

His supporters argue that traditional values ​​in Uganda are under threat.

During the long debate in parliament, several homophobic comments were made, while there was at least one position in favor of castration of members of the LGBTI+ community. A member of parliament who appeared to criticize the measures was the target of loud boos.

Sam Ganafa, head of LGBT rights group Spectrum in Uganda, warned that the situation was extremely serious, noting that many same-sex couples were at risk of becoming homeless as property owners rushed to evict them.

With this law, all that awaits members of sexual minorities is “fear and danger,” she said, “the best thing would be to leave this country,” said the 23-year-old transgender woman. Two weeks ago, she said, she was attacked by a group of teenagers.

The European Union is “deeply concerned about the approval of the anti-homosexuality law” by Uganda’s parliament, Nabila Masraly, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Giuseppe Borrell, said on Twitter. “We will continue to talk with the authorities and civil society to ensure that everyone is treated equally.”

In 2014, parliament tried to pass a law that would have imposed a life sentence on “convicted” homosexuals, but the text was struck down by the Constitutional Court due to procedural errors.

In 2021, Mr Museveni vetoed similar bills, following an outcry in the West.

The LGBTQI+ community seems to have been targeted more broadly in parts of East Africa. Over the weekend, a ruling party official in Tanzania called for homosexuals to undergo castration. While in Kenya, President William Ruto recently declared that homosexuality has no place in his country.