Concerns about Sexual Offenses Bill in Uganda
On 3 May 2021, the Parliament of Uganda passed the Sexual Offences Bill 2019. Members of the Ugandan human rights community have shared their distress that the bill further criminalizes sex work and same-sex relationships. Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned that the Bill will make the work of Ugandan lawyers representing sex workers and members of the LGBTQ+ community even more challenging.
In 2014, Uganda’s Constitutional Court declared the Anti-Homosexuality Act null and void. However, this did not put an end to the challenges faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community and sex workers in Uganda. These highly stigmatized groups continue to face police extortion, loss of employment, residential evictions and arbitrary arrests. Often, the colonial era Penal Code Act is being (mis)applied and used to criminalize sex work and same-sex relationships.
The stigmatization of the LGBTQ+ community and sex workers also affects lawyers representing these groups. Lawyers are being identified with their clients, intimidated and hindered in performing their professional duties. For example, several law offices have been raided.
Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned that insofar the Sexual Offences Bill 2019 criminalizes same-sex relationships and sex work, it will further stigmatize these groups and justify their mistreatment and hence also the mistreatment of their lawyers.
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