Ugandan president signs one of the world’s harshest anti-LGBTQ bills into law

Abubaker Lubowa/Reuters/File

By David McKenzie and Eve Brennan, CNN

(CNN) -- (CNN) — Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has signed some of the harshest anti-LGBTQ laws in the world, the speaker of parliament said, defying international pressure.

The bill includes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality’ which includes sex with a minor, having sex while HIV positive and incest.

The bill criminalizes sex education for the gay community and makes it illegal not to expose what it calls perpetrators of aggravated homosexuality to the police. It calls for “rehabilitation”– widely discredited conversion therapy – for gay offenders.

Museveni sent the bill back to parliament for revisions earlier this year. The latest version of the bill passed earlier this month.

Uganda’s longtime president has already faced extensive criticism from Western governments, including the US, over the law.

A similarly homophobic law was struck down by the courts in 2014.

The speaker of the parliament Anita Annet Among celebrated the bill’s signing, saying parliament had “answered the cries of our people.”

“I thank His Excellency, the president, for his steadfast action in the interest of Uganda. With a lot of humility, I thank my colleagues the Members of Parliament for withstanding all the pressure from bullies and doomsday conspiracy theorists in the interest of the country,” she added.

Henry Mukiibi, an activist who assists LGBTQ Ugandans, told CNN that he fears people will take the law into their own hands: “I think this is so so horrible. We didn’t expect this – we thought he would be advised against it. We are going to be tortured. I am just scared now about what is next. People have been waiting for the bill to be signed and then they will work on us. We are going to die.”

Civil society groups are already looking to challenge the law.

“This is hardly surprising for anyone following the events closely, but it is still deeply concerning that the country is viciously discriminating against its sexual minorities. The battle lines are drawn and the next stage of the contestation will be in a court of law,” Nicholas Opiyo, a prominent human rights lawyer told CNN.

“The civil society in Uganda together with the LGBTQI community are prepared to take this to the courts and challenge the law. Because this law is a deeply discriminatory and repressive law that doesn’t meet any international human rights and local standards.”

He added that Uganda’s development partners need to hold the Ugandan government to account.

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