Uganda’s president signed a bill that would punish gay sex acts with harsh sentences, including life imprisonments.
It’s the latest in a slew of anti-gay laws in Africa, where homosexuality is illegal in a majority of countries, just as the U.S. and other nations have begun legislating the rights of gay people.
Uganda’s law is particularly tough, subjecting citizens to life sentences for repeat convictions of “aggravated homosexuality.” First time offenders would be given 14-year sentences for the “promotion or recognition” of homosexual relations.
“The president is signing the anti-homosexuality bill today,” Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told Reuters, according to the New York Times. “He wants to sign it with the full witness of the international media to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation.”
President Barack Obama warned Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni not to sign the law.
Obama said that he was “deeply disappointed” to learn of the law and that it's implementation would “complicate” Uganda’s relationship with America.
“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda,” Obama said in a statement. “It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. It also will mark a serious setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice and equal rights.”
White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice announced on her Twitter that she had reached out to Musevini directly and urged him not to sign it.