Homosexual behavior is already prohibited in the country, but under the new law, reported the BBC, individuals may be imprisoned for life if convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” and may also be punished for promoting homosexuality, encouraging others to identify as homosexual, or speaking positively about such issues as same-sex marriage.
Also, for the first time lesbians will be included in prohibitions against homosexual behavior in the country. Time magazine noted that earlier drafts of the bill had made it a crime “not to report gay people — in effect making it impossible to live as openly gay — but this clause has been removed.”
Museveni had initially laid aside the legislation, introduced last year, as he reportedly awaited counsel from U.S. researchers on the scientific evidence concerning the roots of homosexuality. But at a ceremony following the signing of the bill, Museveni said that “no study has shown you can be homosexual by nature. That's why I have agreed to sign the bill.”
Additionally, according to a Ugandan government spokesman, Museveni ultimately signed the bill as a declaration of “Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure.”
That pressure came in the form of strong statements from both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. In a prepared statement Kerry warned that the new law “threatens a dangerous slide backward in Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and a serious threat to the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community in Uganda.”
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Photo of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni: AP Images