By ALAN COWELL
Published: December 20, 2013
LONDON — After years of argument that has drawn ferocious condemnation from outsiders like President Obama, the Ugandan Parliament approved legislation on Friday introducing harsher punishment — including life imprisonment —for what the law called “aggravated homosexuality,” news reports said.
The law was not as tough as an initial bill, first mooted in 2009 and later withdrawn, that would have imposed the death sentence in some cases and would have required citizens to report acts of homosexuality within 24 hours. Mr. Obama called that legislation “odious.” But it reflected a broader aversion to homosexuality across Africa that has brought persecution and intolerance in many countries.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda but David Bahati, a lawmaker who has promoted the antigay legislation, said existing laws needed to be strengthened to prevent Western homosexuals from promoting it among young Ugandans.
“I am officially illegal,” Agence France-Presse quoted a gay activist, Frank Mugisha, as saying when the legislation was approved on Friday. Like legislation in Russia against “gay propaganda,” the new law would criminalize the public promotion of homosexuality, including discussion of the issue by rights groups, news reports said.