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Uganda president to sign anti-gay law

A spokesperson for the Ugandan government, Ofwono Opondo, said in a tweet [text] Friday that President Yoweri Museveni will sign an anti-gay law [press release] that provides for life imprisonment for homosexuals. Homosexuality has long been illegal in Uganda, and the bill was introduced to inflict harsher penalties for the crime. The bill would impose life sentences for "aggravated homosexuality" and criminalize not reporting gay people. The bill is supported by a strong majority of members in the Ugandan parliament, and the alleged rationale is the need to protect the nation's youth and the greater population from the "emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family." Museveni had previously opposed [JURIST report] the bill as too harsh and at first sought a compromise with parliament.

The bill's history has garnered international attention since it was passed [JURIST report] in December, and many see it as a reaction to major legislative reforms in support of same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] in the US and other Western nations. Last November the bill was bolstered [JURIST report] by religious leaders in Uganda. In February of that year Ugandan MP David Bahati announced that clauses mandating the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" would be dropped [JURIST report] from the controversial bill. In 2010 US President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the US Congress in denouncing the bill [JURIST report]. Roughly two-thirds [BBC report, map] of African nations criminalize homosexuality, according to an Amnesty International report published earlier this year.

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