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The penalty for being gay in this country? Life imprisonment.

Charges of “aggravated homosexuality” can lead to life imprisonment.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has shocked and appalled well, anyone with any sense of decency, after signing an anti-gay bill with perhaps the toughest laws against homosexuality in the world.

Under the new bill, the punishment for gay sex can be life imprisonment – and the law states that first-time offenders should be sentenced to 14 years in jail.

The maximum sentence of life imprisonment is reserved for acts of what the bill calls “aggravated homosexuality,” which include gay sex where one partner is infected by HIV or disabled, repeated gay sex (even if both partners are consenting), and acts involving a minor (this law does not apply to heterosexual underage sex).

The bill also threatens to sentence those who support the LGBT community — merely trying to aid or counsel a gay person, could result in 5-7 years in jail.

The bill goes into effect immediately.

Government officials applauded as President Museveni signed the bill – and delivered an offensive anti-gay diatribe while he was at it.

Museveni denigrated gay people, calling them “prostitutes” and “mercenaries”.

“Homosexuals are actually mercenaries. They are heterosexual people but because of money they say they are homosexuals. These are prostitutes because of money,” he explained.

He said he couldn’t understand how a gay man could “fail to be attracted to all these beautiful women and be attracted to a man”.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

The 69-year-olkd President expressed a particular aversion to oral sex, saying, “That is a really serious matter. There is something really wrong with you.”

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President Museveni is also not alone is his stance. Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s minister for ethics and integrity, has said that being gay is “contrary to the order of nature and therefore it is illegal”.

Mr Museveni is an African ally to both the European Union and the United Sates, but the signing of the law has been criticised by US President Barack Obama – who says that ties between the two governments could be damaged.

However, Mr Museveni warned that, “Outsiders cannot dictate to us, this is our country … I advise friends from the West not to make this an issue, because if they make it an issue the more they will lose.”

After President Museveni signed the bill, school children in the capital celebrated by waving yellow placards that read: “Obama leave us alone: Homosexuals have no room in Uganda.”

In an earlier draft, the bill called for some homosexual acts to be punished by the death penalty.

Although this was removed from the legislation after international outrage, it is indicative of the hostile, dangerous attitude towards LGBT people in Uganda.

They are being persecuted by the government. They are being pushed to the outskirts of society. They are being imprisoned because of whom they choose to love.

To lend your voice trying to fight this bill, check out the All Out campaign against Uganda’s new gay laws.

You can follow Melissa Wellham on Twitter at @melissawellham.

Do you think the world needs to take a stance against Uganda’s gay laws?

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