Think Global Health  |  July 19, 2023

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In Uganda, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQ+) communities have long faced repression and violence, which undermines their individual rights and inflicts injury in multiple ways. In response, global health funders, international organizations, and Ugandans themselves have undertaken remarkable efforts to try to ameliorate those harms, including by creating community-led health services and providing legal support to advance human rights. But a harsh new law has deepened the threat to LGBTQ+ people, imperiling the health of all Ugandans. The country is increasingly an outlier from the global community as governments have trended toward removing such laws. Global health actors urgently need to act, collectively and strategically, to alter this course. On May 26, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023, among the harshest anti-LGBTQ+ statutes in the world. Lawmakers justified the new law as necessary to “protect the traditional family” despite studies showing that recognition of LGBTQ+ people has had no effect on family formation.

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