People protest against Uganda's new anti-LGBTQ bill in Pretori
People hold placards and flags during a demonstration against the newly proposed Ugandan anti-LGBTQ bill, which makes homosexuality illegal and punishable by harsh sentences, in Pretoria, South Africa on March 31, 2023 Reuters

South Africans took to the streets of Pretoria and Cape Town on Friday to protest against a Ugandan law passed last week that makes it a criminal offence to be openly LGBTQ.

Singing and waving flags, demonstrators called on Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, not to sign it.

While Uganda is among more than 30 African countries that already ban same-sex relations, the new law would be the first to outlaw merely identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ), according to rights group Human Rights Watch.

"World leaders should put pressure on Museveni to not sign the bill because it's not only a Ugandan issue, it is an African continent issue," said Papa De DeLovie Kwagala, a Ugandan LGBTQ rights activist and photographer among about 100 people protesting outside the United Nations Information Centre in Pretoria.

"Queer people don't owe anyone anything, but we also deserve to live just like everyone else. You can't strip all our rights. This is a world emergency."

A collective of South African regional civil society organisations protest against Uganda's anti-LGBT bill in Cape Town
A woman holds a placard in front of South Africa's parliament where activists protest against Uganda's anti-LGBT bill, in Cape Town, South Africa, March 31, 2023. Reuters