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Uganda's president to sign anti-gay bill on Monday

Despite appeals from South Africa’s retired Archbishop and Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu and U.S. President Barack Obama, Uganda’s president is expected to sign a controversial anti-gay bill that allows harsh penalties for homosexual offenses.

The Uganda Media Center said that President Yoweri Museveni will sign the bill on Monday at 11 a.m. local time (0800 GMT) at his official residence.

The bill is popular in Uganda, but rights groups have condemned it as draconian in a country where homosexuality is already illegal.

The law punishes first-time offenders with 14 years in jail. It also sets life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality.” The bill originally proposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts, but that was later removed amid international criticism.

Earlier reports:

U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Mr. Museveni not to sign the bill, saying doing so would “complicate” the east African country’s relationship with Washington.

South Africa’s retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Sunday made an impassioned plea to Uganda’s President not to sign into law a harsh Anti-Homosexuality Bill that calls for a life sentence for some same-sex relations.

Mr. Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner, said in a statement that Mr. Museveni a month ago had pledged not to allow the anti-gay legislation to become law in Uganda. But last week Mr. Museveni said he had reconsidered and would consult scientists on whether homosexuality is determined by genetics or by a person’s choice.

Mr. Tutu said he is “disheartened” by Mr. Museveni’s new position because there is “no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love ... There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever.”

Mr. Tutu urged Mr. Museveni to strengthen Uganda’s “culture of human rights and justice.”

Uganda’s controversial anti-gay bill was passed by the country’s parliament in December. It must be signed by Mr. Museveni to become law.

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