- February 24, 2014
Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing
Today the Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-homosexuality bill, which imposes a life sentence on those guilty of “aggravated homosexuality,” into law.
Formerly known as the “Kill the Gays” bill, the anti-homosexuality bill once included the death penalty.
President Yoweri Museveni previously claimed he would not sign the bill because it was hurriedly passed. At the time, the president claimed the bill requires further study because while homosexuality is a “disgusting behavior” and an “alternative lifestyle,” he believed that many are gay because of “financial inducements.” For LGBT Ugandans, especially the young, he believes they can be “rescued” by improving Uganda’s economy. Finally, the president suggested that unmarried women become lesbians due to “sexual starvation.”
However, on February 16, President Museveni announced he intended to sign the bill and declared, "a war with the homosexual lobby."
Public outcry immediately followed Ugandan President’s announcement. The White House called the law an “affront to the gay community” and a step backward for gay Ugandans. In a statement released today, the White House reiterated its position against the law. It states, "As President Obama has said, this law is more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda, it reflects poorly on the country's commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and will undermine public health, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS." Former President Clinton also came out against the law, callig it a "setback to personal freedom."
Museveni responded to President Obama’s criticism, stating, “This very debate was provoked by Western groups who come to our schools and try to recruit children into homosexuality.”