Uganda president Yoweri Museven has signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law today (24 February).
For the first time ever, the president signed the bill live on television.
The legislation is one of the most draconic in the world, toughening up present laws to include life imprisonment for ‘repeat offenders’ of homosexuality.
It will also be illegal to ‘promote’ homosexuality, and those who fail to report homosexuals to the police will also risk arrest or jail.
Speaking to a crowd of lawmakers, journalists and Ugandans, Museveni blamed having to sign the bill on the western countries.
‘It is our view that we punish exhibitionism, recruiters and homosexual prostitutes,’ he said.
‘We don’t impose ourselves on Western culture. What is wrong with this then? Why must you show us how you kiss?’
‘We are sick of homosexuals exhibiting themselves. All Africans are flabbergasted by this exhibition of sexual conduct.’
He added: ‘I do not understand why a man can’t be attracted to a beautiful woman and instead be attracted to a fellow man.’
David Bahati, the man responsible for the legislation, told journalists: ‘Today is a victory for the people of Uganda and the future of this country.’
The president has gone back and forth on whether he would make the bill law.
Last month, Museveni described homosexuals as ‘sick’ people who needed help, not imprisonment.
And then when he was handed a report from ‘scientists’ saying homosexuality is abnormal behavior, he said he would agree to the bill.
Museveni then said he would seek advice from US scientists before making any decision in a week of unconfirmed reports that he had already signed it and misleading statements from the government.
The delays were seen as an attempt to appease major aid donor United States, coming only days after President Barack Obama warned the bill would complicate the US relationship with Uganda.
Human rights icon and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu has condemned the anti-gay law.
He said: ‘When President Museveni and I spoke last month, he gave his word that he would not let the anti-homosexuality bill become law in Uganda. I was therefore very disheartened to hear last week that President Museveni was reconsidering his position.
‘We must be entirely clear about this: the history of people is littered with attempts to legislate against love or marriage across class, caste, and race. But there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. There is only the grace of God.
‘There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever. And nor is there any moral justification. Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, among others, attest to these facts.’
Edwin Sesange, Uganda gay rights activist, told Gay Star News he was deeply ‘saddened’ by the news.
‘However, I appeal to the entire Ugandan community to not turn against their fellow LGBTI Ugandans. We are Ugandans no matter our sexual or gender identity.
‘We are calling upon the entire LGBTI community and those perceived to be promoters of homosexuality to stay calm and think of their safety first as we are preparing to challenge this law.
‘This law has been engineered and championed by opinions, lies and hatred but we will fight it with facts, respect and love for other.
‘We are calling upon the entire international community to join us.’