The President of the Republic of Uganda is preparing to sign a bill into law that will effectively criminalize homosexuality.
A government spokesman in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, announced via Twitter that President Yoweri Museveni “will assent the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law.”
That government spokesman, Ofwono Opondo, also tweeted, “14 medical experts presented a report that homosexuality is not genetic but a social behavior.”
Museveni apparently was influenced to sign the bill after a week- long retreat with members of his National Resistance Movement political party. He is up for re-election in 2016.
Aaron Jensen, spokesperson for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. State Department, said “the United States opposes any action that criminalizes same-sex conduct among adults.”
Jensen went on to say that, “whatever form this bill takes, we are opposed to it.”
Museveni has held power in Uganda since 1986 and, officially, the country calls itself a republic. A landlocked country in East Sub Sahara Africa, Uganda’s boundaries were created by Britain during colonization. Uganda received its independence from Britain in 1962 and today has a population of more than 34 million people, ranking 37th globally.
Museveni had previously made public statements against imprisoning homosexuals for life, saying, instead, he believed gay people were “sick” and “abnormal.” His about face on the bill was tweeted to the world by Opondo on Friday: “The NRM caucus has welcomed the development as a measure to protect Ugandans from social deviants.”
In response to the bill, Robyn Lieberman, a senior advocacy strategist with Human Rights First, a non-profit, nonpartisan human rights organization in New York and Washington, D.C., released the following statement Friday:
“Human Rights First today expressed deep concern over reports that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has announced that he will sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, which will have severely adverse consequences for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as well as other Ugandans.”