Newspaper article International New York Times

Ugandan Leader Plans to Pass Antigay Bill

Newspaper article International New York Times

Ugandan Leader Plans to Pass Antigay Bill

Article excerpt

Yoweri Museveni moved forward with a bill that would criminalize the promotion or recognition of homosexual relations.

Gay rights in Africa suffered another setback when President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda told members of his party that he would sign a bill imposing harsh sentences for homosexual acts, including life imprisonment in some cases.

The measure would criminalize "the promotion or recognition" of homosexual relations. After a first conviction, offenders face a 14- year prison sentence. Subsequent convictions of "aggravated homosexuality" could bring a penalty of life in prison.

The announcement of the president's intentions came during a conference of Mr. Museveni's party, the National Resistance Movement, according to a government spokesman. "The NRM caucus has welcomed the development as a measure to protect Ugandans from social deviants," the spokesman, Ofwono Opondo, said in a post on Twitter on Friday.

According to Amnesty International, homosexuality is illegal in 38 of the 54 African countries.

Homosexual acts can be punished by death sentences in Mauritania, southern Somalia, Sudan and northern Nigeria, where justice is carried out according to a version of Shariah law. Since President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria signed a law criminalizing homosexuality throughout the country last month, arrests of gay people have multiplied amid demands for a crackdown.

Colonial-era Ugandan law already prohibits homosexual acts. An earlier version of the bill, introduced in 2009 and then withdrawn, included the death penalty in some instances. An international outcry helped scuttle that version, but legislators pushed ahead with a revised one.

The Ugandan Parliament passed the most recent version of the antigay legislation in December. Later that month, Mr. Museveni wrote a letter to Parliament saying that lawmakers had made procedural errors in passing the bill and that in-depth study was needed before it could be taken up again.

He said at the time that he would seek further expert opinions.

"The normal person was created to be attracted to the opposite sex in order to procreate and perpetuate the human race," Mr. …

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