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Ugandan President Returns Anti-LGBTQ Bill Back To Parliament For “Strengthening” It

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According to the top whip of the ruling party, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda endorses the legislation containing some of the worst anti-LGBTQ laws in the world but will send it back to parliament for “strengthening”.

According to Denis Hamson Obua, top whip of the ruling party, a delegation of legislators from Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) met with the president to discuss the bill and reached an agreement to pass it in principle.

“Before that is done, we also agree that the bill will be returned in order to facilitate the reinforcement and the strengthening of some provisions in line with our best practises,” he said at a news conference following the meeting.

He did not go into detail on what in the law needed to be strengthened. Before the meeting, a different NRM lawmaker, Kwizera Eddie Wagahungu, said that Museveni should request amendments to clauses that conflict with existing legislation in order to avoid a successful legal challenge.

Obua stated that Museveni would meet with the legal and parliamentary affairs committee of parliament on Tuesday to discuss the revisions.

The measure, which would impose the death penalty for alleged cases of aggravated homosexuality and 20-year terms for “promoting” homosexuality, has been denounced by the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and a lengthy list of corporate goliaths.

Having homosexual relations while being HIV positive is one of the crimes classified as aggravated homosexuality.

Members of the LGBTQ community in Uganda claim that the bill’s adoption last month with nearly unanimity in parliament has already resulted in a surge of arrests, evictions, and mob violence against LGBTQ Ugandans.

Museveni strongly opposes LGBTQ rights. He referred to gay people as “deviations from normal” last month.

He signed a law in 2014 that stiffened penalties for same-sex relationships, although he has also occasionally advocated for treating homosexuality rather than passing laws to handle it. He was faced with a difficult balancing act in trying to appease parliamentarians over legislation that enjoys widespread public support while not upsetting foreign donors who give billions of dollars in aid each year.

In response to the bill Museveni passed in 2014, Western governments cut security cooperation, restricted visas, and suspended aid. Within months, a domestic court invalidated the measure due to procedural issues.

Homosexuality poses a threat to traditional family values, according to the supporters of the new law, who said that even harsher legislation was required to address this threat.  This demand comes when already same-sex relationships are prohibited in Uganda, as they are in more than 30 other African nations.

Tanzania and Kenya, which are neighbors, have lately requested similar legislation.

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