Last week, Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act that includes life prison sentences for gay sex and same-sex marriage. The also criminalizes the “promotion” of homosexuality”, where activists encourage others to come out. Earlier drafts of the bill made it a crime not to report gay people – in effect making it impossible to live as openly gay – but this clause has been removed.
In response to the law, Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s Minister For External Affairs, has announced that Scotland is willing to offer asylum to Ugandans persecuted under Uganda’s latest harsh anti-gay laws, Scottish newspaper The Herald reports.
The letter comes in advance of Ugandan officials attending the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasglow this summer. The Commonwealth Games invite 53 nation from around the world to compete in athletic competitions. Most of the nations were once territories of the former British Empire.
Same-sex relationships are criminalized in 41 of the 53 nations in the Commonwealth, according to the Kaleidoscope Trust, which monitors LGBT rights in the Commonwealth.
“No one from any part of the Commonwealth who visits Scotland will be under any doubt about our values as a welcoming, open and tolerant society,” wrote Yousaf.
“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda is a huge step back for equality and I have written to the UK government asking it to make the strongest possible representations to the government of Uganda.”
“I have also urged the UK foreign secretary to offer asylum to any Ugandans who suffer threat or persecution as a result of the legislation.”
A day after the bill was signed a Ugandan newspaper published a list of what it called the country’s 200 top homosexuals, including some who previously had not identified themselves as gay.