[JURIST] Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday signed into law a bill criminalizing the promotion and recognition of homosexual relations. Reports indicate that first-time offenders will face up to 14 years in prison, while those charged with “aggravated homosexuality” will face life in prison. The law also requires Ugandans to report homosexual activity [NYT report] to the authorities or face criminal sanctions. Homosexuality has long been illegal in Uganda, but parliament passed this measure [JURIST report] in December to impose harsher penalties on homosexual activity. Ugandan authorities have reportedly rationalized the law, notwithstanding international disapprobation, based upon the need to protect the nation’s youth and general population from the “emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family.” Museveni previously opposed [JURIST report] the bill as too harsh and sought a compromise with parliament.
The bill’s history has garnered international attention since it was passed 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 Ugandan religious leader bolstered [JURIST report] the bill. 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.