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Uganda president to sign anti-gay bill into law

"The president will sign the anti-homosexuality bill today," presidential spokesman Tamale Mirundi said/AFP-File

“The president will sign the anti-homosexuality bill today,” presidential spokesman Tamale Mirundi said/AFP-File

KAMPALA, Feb 24 – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will sign into law Monday a controversial bill that will see homosexuals jailed for life, despite international pressure, a government spokesman said.

The Ugandan anti-gay bill cruised through parliament in December after its architects agreed to drop an extremely controversial death penalty clause, although the bill still says that repeat homosexuals should be jailed for life, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires people to denounce gays.

“The president will sign the anti-homosexuality bill today,” presidential spokesman Tamale Mirundi told AFP.

Museveni, a key African ally of the United States and the European Union, has already been under fire from key Western donors over alleged rampant corruption, and had been under pressure from diplomats and rights groups to block the legislation.

“The president cannot be pushed by the international lobby groups… he has made it clear whatever he does will be in the interests of Uganda and not foreign interests,” Mirundi said.

“Uganda is a sovereign state and the decisions taken must be respected.”

The lawmaker behind the bill, David Bahati, praised the decision to sign the bill.

“This is the moment the world has been waiting for,” he told AFP.

Museveni, a devout evangelical Christian, earlier this month also signed into law anti-pornography and dress code legislation which outlaws “provocative” clothing, bans scantily-clad performers from Ugandan television and closely monitors what individuals watch on the Internet.

“We thank our President for taking such a bold move despite pressure from a section of foreign organisations,” Bahati said.

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“The law is for the good of Uganda, the current and the future generations.”

Gay men and women in the country face frequent harassment and threats of violence, and rights activists have reported cases of lesbians being subjected to “corrective” rapes.

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