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Uganda president to sign bill imposing life in prison for convicted homosexuals

Friday, February 14, 2014
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KAMPALA, Uganda — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will sign the country’s controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill that imposes life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality, according to a government spokesman.

Yoweri Museveni

Yoweri Museveni

Ofwono Opondo said on Twitter Friday that Museveni as told members of his National Resistance Movement (NRM) party that “he will assent the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law.”

Museveni said last month he would sign the bill only on the condition that he receives scientific proof that gays are made and not born.

“Unless I have got confirmation from scientists that this condition is not genetic, but a behavior that is acquired, I will not sign the bill,” he had reportedly told party members.

According to a series of tweets Friday, Opondo said “14 medical experts presented a report that homosexuality is not genetic but a social behaviour,” followed by, “The NRM caucus has welcomed the development as a measure to protect Ugandans from social deviants.”

Evelyn Anite, a spokeswoman for the governing party, said Museveni promised to sign the bill after he reads the “medical experts” report. Both officials said no date has been set for the signing.

The Ugandan Observer has reported that Museveni “supports the law 100% especially if it deals with people who promote, abate, recruit and support homosexuality, but was a bit hesitant to accept the law if it seeks to punish homosexuals” for a “genetic condition.”

Museveni has been facing stiff pressure from party members to sign the bill.

The bill, first introduced in 2009, has garnered global condemnation and criticism for its harsh punishment which criminalizes sexual intercourse between same-sex partners.

The legislation provides for a sentence of life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality, as well as punishment for those convicted of being supportive of LGBT people.

In its original form, the bill was widely referred as the “Kill the Gays Bill” for including the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” — consensual same-sex acts committed by “repeat offenders,” anyone who is in a position of power, is HIV-positive, or uses intoxicating agents i.e. alcohol in the process.

Rights groups, including Amnesty International, have urged Museveni to reject the bill, which is popular among Christian clerics and lawmakers who say is necessary to deter Western homosexuals from “recruiting” children in Uganda.

On Friday, the organization Human Rights First expressed “deep concern” over the reports that the bill will be signed into law, saying it “will have severely adverse consequences for the human rights of LGBT people as well as other Ugandans.’”

Robyn Lieberman of Human Rights First said, “There should be no doubt that Museveni’s latest words on the subject have been influenced by the reaction to similar legislation in Nigeria, Russia and elsewhere.”

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