Museveni signs Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill on Monday (Pic: The Daily Monitor)

After months of speculation, President Museveni has finally done it. On Monday he made a defiant display of signing Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill – one of the harshest in the world – despite international condemnation.

Museveni assented to the bill at a press conference at State House in Entebbe, the official office and residence of the president.

He was supported by ministers, MPs and senior health practitioners as the media watched him sign the oppressive legislation into law.

“A study done in Sweden showed that 34% were homosexuals as a result of nurture not nature,” Museveni was quoted as saying by The Daily Monitor.

“Homosexuals are nurtured but not natured. No study has shown that one can be a homosexual purely by nature. Since nurture is the cause, that is why I have agreed to sign the Bill into law,” he said, reported New Vision.

Museveni also spoke out against the “recruitment” of young people into homosexuality for “mercenary” purposes; apparently to improve their financial circumstances.

“That is why those mercenaries must be punished and those recruiting them. I fail to understand that one can fail to get attracted to the beauties of a woman and instead get interested to a fellow man,” Museveni said.

The unusual and very public manner in which he enacted the law suggests that it was intended as a statement asserting Uganda’s defiance in the face of international criticism.

Earlier Reuters quoted Ugandan government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo as saying: “[President Museveni] wants to sign it with the full witness of the international media to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation.”

Last week, President Obama warned Museveni that approving the anti-gay law will “complicate” Uganda’s relationship with the US.

LGBT Ugandans have had to endure years of ongoing uncertainty over the bill, which originally allowed for the death penalty. It was first introduced in 2009, but was only voted on and approved in parliament in December last year.

While anal sex between men is already illegal in Uganda, with penalties including life imprisonment, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill extends the ban to any kind of same-sex sex – including lesbianism – and also punishes repeat “offenders” and attempts by same-sex couples to marry with life imprisonment.

In addition, anyone who “aids, abets [or] counsels” a gay person and anyone who rents a home or room to a gay person could also be sentenced to seven years in jail. The bill further includes criminal penalties of five to seven years in prison for anyone who “promotes” homosexuality.

2014 has become one of the darkest years in recent history for LGBT Africans. In January, Nigeria enacted its own anti-gay law. It punishes anyone in any kind of same-sex relationship with a 14 year prison sentence and any public same-sex display of affection with a 10 year prison sentence. Anyone who runs or participates in a gay organisation or club faces 10 years in jail

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