Uganda's Museveni signs anti-LGBTQ measure into law

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday signed a controversial anti-gay law widely condemned by the United Nations and human rights activists. File Photo by Jason Szenes/EPA-EFE
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday signed a controversial anti-gay law widely condemned by the United Nations and human rights activists. File Photo by Jason Szenes/EPA-EFE

May 29 (UPI) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday signed a controversial anti-LGBTQ bill, that punishes "gay sexual conduct" with life sentences and related offense with the death penalty, attracting the condemnation of the international community.

Museveni signed the bill, despite objections from the United States and many other Western countries as well as international organizations, siding with Ugandan legislatures who approved the measure in March. He called for revisions to the original bill that he thought penalized people simply for their appearances.


Under the new law, those convicted of gay sexual conduct could be sentenced to life in prison. The death penalty can be given for convictions of aggravated homosexual sexual abuse against a child, a disabled person or a victim of abuse who is infected with a life-long sickness.

The law also makes it mandatory for the public to report suspected homosexual "abuse" against children or other vulnerable persons to authorities.


Ugandan Parliament Speaker Anita Annet Among praised Museveni for signing the bill, saying it had the support of the Uganda public and calling those outside the country who criticized the law "bullies."

"I thank his excellency, the president, for his steadfast action in the interest of Uganda," Among said in a statement. "With a lot of humility, I thank my colleagues the Members of Parliament for withstanding all the pressure from bullies and doomsday conspiracy theorists in the interest of our country."

Ugandan lawmaker Asuman Basalirwa said the United States has already revoked Among's visa to the country because of her support of the bill.

After it was signed on Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden issued a strongly worded statement warning that if the law is not repealed Washington's financial commitment to the country will be examined and sanctions and visa restrictions may be imposed against "anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption."

Biden said the National Security Council has been directed to evaluate implications of the law on U.S. engagement with Uganda, including the ability to deliver services under the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and other forms of assistance and investments.


Washington invests nearly $1 billion annually in the African nation, and Biden said he hopes that "we can continue to build on this progress."

"The enactment of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act is a tragic violation of universal human rights -- one that is not worthy of the Ugandan people, and one that jeopardizes the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country," he said, while describing the legislation as "the latest development in an alarming trend of human rights abuses and corruption in Uganda" that threatens not only locals but I.S. government personnel, their staff and partners as well as tourists.

U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken late announced Monday that he has called for travel guidance for Americans to be updated and to consider deploying visa restrictions "against Ugandan officials and other individuals for abuse of human rights."

The State Department will also develop mechanisms to support the rights of LGBTQ Ugandans and promote accountability for Ugandan officials, he said in a statement.

Canada similarly condemned the law as a "blatant violation" of human rights and fundamental freedoms, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau separately calling it "appalling and abhorrent."


The United Nations human rights office, the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and Global Fund voiced strong opposition.

Josep Borrell, the European Union's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, lamented in a statement that failure to repeal that law "will undermine relationships with international partners."

Human rights organizations also have spoken out against the law.

"This law will have a devastating impact on LGBT individuals in Uganda, who already face persecution and discrimination," Amnesty International deputy regional director Flavia Mwangovya said in a statement before the signing.

"It will fuel violence and discrimination against LGBTI individuals and reinforce stigma and stereotypes related to homosexuality. It will also have a chilling effect on freedom of expression, as individuals who support LGBTI rights may fear persecution and imprisonment."

In March, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Museveni not to sign the bill while U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield tried to persuade the Ugandan leader to do the same in phone calls directly to him.

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