Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed into law a controversial anti-LGBT+ law with harsh penalties for same-sex relations and the "promotion" of homosexuality, which had sparked outrage from many NGOs and threats from Western governments, the presidency announced Monday.
The president approved the 2023 anti-homosexuality bill. It now becomes the 2023 anti-homosexuality law," the Ugandan presidency said in a brief statement posted on its official Twitter account.
The vote on this bill in Parliament on March 21 had sparked an international outcry and President Yoweri Museveni had asked parliamentarians at the end of April to "review" the text, urging them in particular to clarify that "being homosexual" was not a crime but that only sexual relations were.
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In a version modified at the margin and voted unanimously minus one vote on May 2, the elected had included in the text that "a person who is presumed or suspected of being homosexual, who has not committed a sexual act with another person of the same sex, does not commit the offense of homosexuality".
In this East African country where homosexuality is illegal, "acts of homosexuality" are punishable by life imprisonment since a law dating back to British colonization.
In the new version of the text, however, the parliamentarians maintained, against the advice of the Head of State, a provision making "aggravated homosexuality" a capital crime, which means that repeat offenders can be sentenced to death. In Uganda, the death penalty has not been applied for years.
A provision on the "promotion" of homosexuality also worries gay rights organizations.
According to the text, anyone - individual or organization - "knowingly promotes homosexuality" faces up to 20 years in prison. If it is an organization, it faces a ten-year ban.
This new version of the text had been condemned by Amnesty International. The NGO had called on President Museveni to oppose this "contemptuous law (which) flagrantly violates the human rights of LGBTI people in Uganda".
After the initial vote on March 21, the US, UK and EU condemned the bill. The White House had warned Uganda of potential economic "consequences."
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, denounced a "discriminatory text - probably the worst in the world of its kind".
In a resolution on 20 April, MEPs deplored "President Museveni's contribution to the rhetoric of hatred towards LGBT+ people".