Obama to Museveni: Don’t Enact Anti-Gay Law

Says it will complicate relations with the U.S. and "will be a step backward for all Ugandans"

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Ronald Kabuubi / AFP / Getty Images

Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, left, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet in Entebbe, Uganda, on Aug. 3, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama has warned Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni that relations between the two countries could be soured if he enacts an anti-gay law.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda,” Obama said in a statement Sunday. “It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people.”

When the bill was first introduced in 2009, it prescribed the death penalty, but it has since been changed to promote jail terms reaching up to life-time sentences for a murky offense called “aggravated homosexuality.” Museveni indicated last month that he would only sign the bill if scientists could prove that homosexuality is not genetic. On Friday, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said that medical experts had presented that evidence, and so Museveni’s signing was imminent.

International pressure has since mounted, even going as far as a possible suspension of vital aid. The U.S. is one of the largest foreign donors to Uganda, sending more than $400 million annually in recent years.