Uganda's president today signed a controversial anti-gay bill that has harsh penalties for homosexual sex, saying the bill is necessary because "arrogant and careless Western groups" had tried to "recruit" Ugandan children into homosexuality. President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill at his official residence in front of applauding government officials, journalists, and a team of Ugandan scientists whose report—which found that there is no genetic basis for homosexuality—Museveni has cited as his reason for backing the bill.
"We Africans never seek to impose our view on others. If only they could let us alone," he said, referring to Western pressure to not sign the bill. In its original form the bill called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts, but that was nixed amid international outcry. The new law calls for first-time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in jail, or life in prison for "aggravated homosexuality," defined 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. "The president is making this decision because he has never met an openly gay person," one Ugandan gay activist said. "That disappoints me." (Read more Uganda stories.)