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Ugandan President Signs Anti-Homosexuality Law

The law includes harsh penalties for homosexual sex, such as a 14-year sentence for first-time offenders.

Posted on February 24, 2014, at 7:59 a.m. ET

Updated — 12:01 p.m., ET

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed an anti-homosexuality bill that includes harsh penalties for homosexual sex.

James Akena / Reuters

Museveni said the bill was necessary because of "arrogant and careless Western groups" that have tried to "recruit" children from Uganda into being gay. Museveni added, "We Africans never seek to impose our view on others. If only they could let us alone."

The new law says that first-time offenders will be sentenced 14 years in jail. Offenders of "aggravated homosexuality" will receive a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

James Akena / Reuters

A previous version of this law saw the death penalty as the top penalty for homosexual acts. The Associated Press reports that the law defines "aggravated homosexuality" as "repeated gay sex between consenting adults as well as acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner is infected with HIV."

Although the government officials applauded the bill's signing and despite its apparent popularity among Ugandans, some European countries have threatened to cut aid to the country because of the bill.

AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File

President Barack Obama previously warned that the bill would "complicate" the United States' relationship with Uganda.

The White House released the following statement calling Museveni's signing of the law "a step backward."

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.

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