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Two LGBT Ugandans stood trial today for having sex

Jackson Mukasa, left, and Kim Mukasa, right, in court in Uganda charged with engaging in sex.
Jackson Mukasa, left, and Kim Mukasa, right, in court in Uganda charged with engaging in sex.
Rebecca Vassie/AP

Today began the trial of Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa, two LGBT Ugandans charged with engaging in sex acts "against the order of nature." This is the first trial of LGBT Ugandans since the country's Anti Homosexuality Bill was signed into law in February.

As The Guardian reports, the couple was taken into custody by police in January as they were fleeing an angry mob. They have been detained in prison ever since for violating section 145 of Uganda's Penal Code Act of 1950, which criminalizes sexual acts "against the order of nature." If convicted, they face life imprisonment. The Guardian reports that prosecutors say they have "sufficient evidence" to convict Mukisa and Mukasa.

Not many details are known yet about the trial, but The Guardian reports that prosecutors feel confident that they have enough evidence to convict Mukisa and Mukasa.

Earlier this year, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti Homosexuality Bill, which broadened the already harsh anti-sodomy laws on the books in Uganda. Initial drafts of the bill called for the death penalty for those accused of "aggravated homosexuality," but this language did not make it into the final draft of the law. In the law that President Museveni signed, the punishment for the behavior Mukasa and Mukisa are accused of is life in prison.

Mukasa and Mukisa's trial is unprecedented — all previous cases have either been dismissed or currently remain pending. The Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum has provided the two with a lawyer.

Maria Bernett, senior researcher in the Africa division of the Human Rights Watch, noted the importance of this trial. "It's significant that Uganda has decided to move forward with the prosecution because, though that law has been on the books, it hasn't been applied in decades, to the best of my knowledge."