STORY: Members of Uganda's LGBTQ community are in shock and afraid for their lives -- after parliament passed a new bill that would make it a crime merely to identify as LGBTQ.
The "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" passed with a near-unanimous majority on Tuesday.
Same-sex relations are already illegal in Uganda -- and over 30 other African countries.
The new law would introduce steep sentences... life in prison for same-sex relations and the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" -- which according to the bill, involves gay sex with people under 18 or when the perpetrator is HIV positive, among other categories.
Advocate Frank Mugisha is one of a few Ugandans who live openly as gay. His charity for LGBTQ rights was shut down last year.
“The last time the legislation was around, there were cases of suicide so, this time, this law is worse than the one that was here before because it has a death penalty and many people would be worried, many people would be scared."
Supporters say it is needed to punish a broader array of LGBTQ activities, which they say threaten traditional values.
The law also bans 'promoting and abetting' homosexuality as well as 'conspiracy to engage' in homosexuality.
U.S. press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted grave concerns about Uganda's bill on Wednesday.
"If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV-AIDS, deter tourism and invest in Uganda, and damage Uganda's international reputation."
The legislation will soon be sent to Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni to be signed into law. He has repeatedly denounced homosexuality.
“If the law is signed by the president, the worst would be, mass and mass arrests of LGBTQ persons, mob violence towards the LGBTQ community, putting LGBTQ persons, I don’t know if they are going to be concentration camps or rehabilitation centers that are so discriminatory because many people are going to be internally displaced.”
Mugisha said he would challenge the law in court on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, and violates various international treaties to which Uganda is a signatory.
“We will go to all courts in Uganda, if need be, we will go to the international court as well but, we definitely have to go to court and challenge this law.”