Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law.
Amnesty International, the global human rights group, called the measure "a draconian and damaging piece of legislation."
“This deeply offensive piece of legislation is an affront to the human rights of all Ugandans and should never have got this far,” said Michelle Kagari, Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “This legislation will institutionalize hatred and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Uganda. Its passage into law signals a very grave episode in the nation’s history.”
Kagari added, “The Anti-Homosexuality Bill will further criminalize consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex, with some offences carrying life imprisonment. It also includes offences such as ‘promotion of homosexuality’, which will directly impact human rights defenders and healthcare providers. It makes a mockery of the rights enshrined in the Ugandan constitution.”
Human rights activists have condemned passage of the bill, as have a number of political leaders, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.
The White House press secretary, in a statement released on Feb. 24, said, "Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward by signing into law legislation criminalizing homosexuality. 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. We will continue to urge the Ugandan government to repeal this abhorrent law and to advocate for the protection of the universal human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda and around the world."
Kerry, in a statement released from the White House, said, "This is a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights. Ultimately, the only answer is repeal of this law. The United States is deeply disappointed in the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. For the four years since the bill was introduced, we have been crystal clear that it blatantly violates human rights obligations that Uganda’s Human Rights Commission itself has recognized are enshrined in Uganda’s Constitution."
The secretary of state called the signing of the bill a "dangerous slide backward in Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and a serious threat to the LGBT community in Uganda."
He also said, "We are also deeply concerned about the law’s potential to set back public health efforts in Uganda, including those to address HIV/AIDS, which must be conducted in a non-discriminatory manner in order to be effective."