Gays Face Life Imprisonment Under Uganda’s New Anti-Gay Law, Global Leaders Condemn New Decree

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 25, 2014 3:48 PM EST

Uganda risks losing cordial relations with the international community if President Yoweri Museveni does not repeal the anti-gay bill he signed into law on Monday.

The new law which takes into effect immediately orders the imprisonment for up to 14 years of first-time offenders while "aggravated homosexuality" offenders face life imprisonment. Aggravated homosexuality is defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults and acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one is infected with HIV.

Mr Museveni may have irked the global Western powers with the new decree, but he might not as well give it a damn as long as he was able to please the Ugandans in time for the presidential elections.

"It's simply politics of destruction. We (homosexuals) are convenient scapegoats to be used when they need to boost their political power," Ugandan gay activist Dr. Paul Semugoma was quoted Washington Post.

According Pepe Julian Onziema, another prominent Ugandan gay activist, Mr Museveni made the decision to ratify the anti-gay bill into law "because he has never met an openly gay person. That disappoints me."

"This is a huge blow for anyone who values basic human rights. In the complete absence of a victim, Museveni has signed a piece of legislation that protects no one and persecutes many," Jonathan Cooper, Chief Executive of the Human Dignity Trust, a collection of law professionals supporting groups to uphold human rights, said.

Mr Museveni defended his decision claiming the law criminalizes homosexuality in the country because he believed there is no proven genetic basis for it.

"No study has shown that you can be homosexual purely by nature. Since nurture is the main cause of homosexuality, then society can do something about it to discourage the trends. That is why I have agreed to sign the Bill," he said.

Introduced in 2009, the anti-gay decree, according to a lawmaker with the ruling party, was necessary to put off Western homosexuals from "recruiting" Ugandan children.

"This legislation will institutionalize hatred and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Uganda. Its passage into law signals a very grave episode in the nation's history," Michelle Kagari of Amnesty International said.

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