Uganda’s President Signs Anti-Gay Bill
ENTEBBE, Uganda -- Uganda’s president on Monday signed a controversial anti-gay bill that has harsh penalties for homosexual sex, saying the bill is necessary because "arrogant and careless Western groups" had tried to "recruit" Ugandan children into homosexuality.
President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill at his official residence in an event witnessed by government officials, journalists and a team of Ugandan scientists whose report -which found that there is no genetic basis for homosexuality - Museveni has cited as his reason for backing the bill.
"We Africans never seek to impose our view on others. If only they could let us alone," he said, talking of Western pressure not to sign the bill.
Government officials applauded after he signed the bill, which was influenced by the preachings of some conservative American evangelicals. In its original form the bill called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts. That penalty was removed from the legislation following an outcry of international criticism.
The new law calls for first-time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in jail. It also sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for a category of offenses called "aggravated homosexuality," defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults as well as acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner is infected with HIV.
The bill is widely popular in Uganda, but international rights groups have condemned it as draconian in a country where homosexuality is already criminalized. Some European counties threatened to cut aid to Uganda if the measure is enacted, and U.S. President Barack Obama warned that signing the bill would "complicate" this East African country’s relationship with Washington.