UNHCR boss Volker Turk criticises Uganda anti-LGBTQ law

Tuesday May 30 2023
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk. PHOTO | RICHARD PIERRIN | AFP


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Head Volker Turk said Uganda's anti-LGBTQ bill appears to violate the Constitution and urged the country's Judiciary to review it.

The proposal signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni is considered one of the harshest in the world and carries the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality". The government says the Constitution has been followed.

"I hope that the Judiciary is going to look into it and I can tell you, if they look at human rights law, their own Constitution, they will find it in violation of it," Volker Turk told Reuters on Tuesday, describing the law as "devastating".

He did not elaborate on which aspect of the Constitution had been violated.

Read: US revokes visas after Museveni assents anti-gay Bill

Asked about alleged breaches of international law, a spokesperson later added: "a whole range", saying these included the rights to equality, non-discrimination and to life.


Uganda's Information Minister Chris Baryomunsi rejected the criticism, telling Reuters, "We followed the Constitution and the laid-out procedures for the law to be legally passed. For us, we do not consider homosexuality as a constitutional right as it is just a sexual deviation which we do not promote as Ugandans and Africans.”

"So, we disagree with the West on that homosexual acts are a human right. It is abnormal behaviour which is being promoted by societies in the West," he added.

“A Ugandan organisation, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, and 10 other individuals have filed a complaint against the law at the constitutional court,” one of the petitioners, Busingye Kabumba, told Reuters. However, it is not yet clear if the court will take up the case.

Read: Biden slams Uganda anti-gay law, urges repeal

Turk also said that "each and every aspect of the law" would also be examined by UN human rights experts.

He criticised "so-called religious groups" for stoking the government to pass the legislation.

"They want to use the machinery of the state to impose their views which is utterly unacceptable," he said.