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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Uganda’s President Museveni refuses to sign anti-LGBTQ bill

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has refused to sign into law a controversial new anti-homosexuality law, which carries the death penalty in some cases, and is demanding that it be changed.

Museveni’s decision was announced Thursday after a meeting of lawmakers from his ruling party, almost all of whom backed the bill passed by lawmakers last month.

A statement said the outcome of the meeting was a decision to return the bill to the National Assembly with “proposals for improvement.”

Uganda’s President Museveni refuses to sign anti-LGBTQ bill

A spokesman for the president said Museveni did not oppose the sanctions proposed in the bill, but wanted lawmakers to “consider the issue of rehabilitation.”

Homosexuality is already illegal in the East African country under a colonial-era law that criminalizes sexual acts “against the order of nature.” The penalty for this crime is life imprisonment.

Museveni is under pressure from the international community to veto the law, which he must sign into law.

The US has warned of economic consequences if the law goes into effect. A UN group of experts described the law, if passed, as a “blatant violation of human rights”.

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Amnesty International called on Museveni in a statement on Thursday to veto what the group called “too broad and narrow” the bill.

“The passage of this appalling law is a heartbreaking moment for the LGBTQ community and their loved ones in Uganda,” Agnes Callamard, leader of the group, said in the statement.

The bill has broad support in Uganda, including among church leaders and others who have called for a tough new anti-gay law. It was introduced by an opposition lawmaker who said its aim was to sanction the “promotion, recruitment and funding” of LGBTQ activities in the country.

Only two of the 389 MPs who attended the voting session opposed the bill.

The bill provides for the death penalty for the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” and life imprisonment for “homosexuality.”

Aggravated homosexuality is defined as cases of sexual relations involving HIV-positive individuals, as well as minors and other risk groups.

Uganda’s President Museveni refuses to sign anti-LGBTQ bill

Prison sentences of up to 20 years are proposed for those who defend or promote LGBT rights.

Under the bill, a suspect convicted of “attempted serious homosexuality” could be sentenced to 14 years in prison, and the offense of “attempted homosexuality” could be punished with up to 10 years.

Anti-gay sentiment has risen sharply in Uganda in recent weeks as media reports reported allegations of bestiality at boarding schools, including a high-profile boys’ boarding school where a father accused a teacher of abusing his son.

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