'It is like hell on Earth': LGBT+ Ugandans tortured, starving and evicted due to anti-gay law

This video contains distressing images

Less than four months on from the Anti-Homosexuality Act being signed in Uganda, gay and trans people are starving, homeless and facing increasing persecution as violence, arrests and evictions treble.

In May the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill, described by the UN as "among the worst of its kind in the world", to outlaw all forms of LGBT+ expression.Museveni has since called for the rest of Africa to follow Uganda's lead, with officials in Kenya already campaigning for stricter laws against these communities.

Yet ITV News has now heard reports of torture, starvation and beatings as Ugandan LGBT+ people say they are "on the run in their own country" and being forced into hiding.

Those testimonies come as new figures released Thursday document 306 human rights violations and abuses against LGBT+ persons in Uganda since the start of the year.

When ITV News put the allegations to Uganda's Vice-President Jessica Alupo as she arrived at the UN General Assembly last week, she simply turned and smiled.

Vice-President of Uganda Jessica Alupo reacts to ITV News' allegations at the UN General Assembly

The Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) prohibits any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex, promotion of these relations or recognition of them.

The "offence of homosexuality" is punishable by life imprisonment whilst "attempted homosexuality" carries up to a ten year sentence.

The AHA also includes the death penalty for anyone who is deemed a 'serial offender', transmits the HIV virus or has sexual relations with someone with a mental health condition or physical disability.

Increasingly reports of forced anal examinations to gather "evidence" of a "crime" have come to light, a practice that is defined as torture under the UN.

A report conducted by the Strategic Response Team Uganda found 18 cases of forced anal examinations this year.

Further reports have emerged which show the depravity caused by a bill that has left LGBT+ people being committed of, what one describes as, a "crime to love who you want to love”.

In March, the Ugandan government voted in favour of the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 before it was signed into law in May

ITV News spoke to a young LGBT+ person who witnessed horrendous atrocities after the bill was implemented.

"We were beaten brutally, we were discriminated against, we were told to be tortured," they said.

"One of my friends was beat, over eighty strokes."

Images: LGBT+ people regularly experience violence across Uganda

Evictions have become commonplace within the LGBT+ community in Uganda due to a section in the law that states Ugandan's cannot "knowingly" lease property to persons deemed to be breaching the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

One of the young LGBT+ persons we spoke to said the act left in its wake a "distorted" world, where "landlords fear to take up my money and offer me rent."

They added: "Getting food is hard, finding shelter is hard, because yes people keep notifying different landlords."I could not get back home because of all what happened ... there is no place where we can run for help."

This eviction notice, shared below, was served to another Ugandan who is part of the community.It says the accused person had "threatened [the village's] security, morality and cultural norms" and demands they leave their premises "before any action is taken".

The evictions have stripped Ugandans of their homes, shelters and livelihoods and left many starving.

"Life has become a living hell, it is like hell on earth ... sometimes we go three days without food," one person told ITV News.

The group all had to flee their villages after the Anti-Homosexuality Act meant locals became hostile towards them.They are now all hiding in just one room, with no bedding, fearing for their futures.

"There was a time when we were in a shelter, and it was set on fire, someone came and set the shelter ablaze. I'll never forget, I was so scared that night," one of them told us.

"There is a time when an angry mob, a village mob rose up against us and promised to beat us up and even slaughter us. It was dreadful, it was a night I can never forget."

CNN reporter questions Ugandan President Museveni on his stance on LGBT+ people in 2014

The growing threat to life and gross mistreatment has led to calls both inside and outside Uganda for international action.Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan LGBT+ advocate, told ITV News: "Countries have to see that if they don't respond now, once these anti-gay legislations gain momentum it's going to be very difficult to respond."

The UK government has remained relatively quiet on the topic despite much stronger condemnation from US President Joe Biden and institutions like The World Bank.

Amnesty International's UK’s Programme Director, Chiara Capraro, said: "It’s vital that UK ministers use all available means to get the Ugandan government to repeal the draconian homophobic law and protect rather than prosecute.

“This contemptuous law blatantly violates the human rights of LGBT+ people in Uganda, including the right to privacy, freedom from discrimination and the right to equal protection under the law."

When asked for a comment by ITV News the UK Foreign Office referred us to previous comments in July by Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, who said: "The UK Government strongly condemns the Government of Uganda's decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 into law.

"To underline the strength of our opposition to the Act and highlight its impacts on the safety of LGBT+ people in Uganda, the Prime Minister has raised it with the Ugandan Foreign Minister, the Foreign Secretary with the Ugandan High Commissioner, and I have raised it with both.

"The British High Commission in Uganda remains engaged with the LGBT+ community and human rights defenders to understand the impact of the Act on the safety of LGBT+ people and support their efforts to protect the rights of vulnerable communities."

But with momentum already gathering for similarly oppressive laws in neighbouring Kenya, the torture and mistreatment in Uganda may well only be the beginning of the increasing persecution of LGBT+ people across Africa.

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