United Nations warns Ugandan President against signing anti-gay law

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The United Nations has warned the President of Uganda against signing the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law.

“LGBT individuals in Uganda are a vulnerable and marginalized minority, already facing violence and discrimination. If signed by the President, this new law would reinforce stigma and prejudice, and institutionalize discrimination,” said Ravina Shamdasani, UN spokeswoman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Urgent steps must be taken to ensure effective protection of LGBT individuals from violence and discrimination.”

“The government has a legal obligation to prevent discrimination and cannot withhold basic rights from certain individuals because the majority disapproves of them,” she added.

“All people, including LGBT individuals, have the same human rights and are entitled to full protection by the state.”

In December, Uganda’s Parliament passed legislation to toughen the punishment for same-sex sexual activity, including life imprisonment for ‘repeat offenders’.

It extends the current penalty of life imprisonment for anal sex to all other same-sex acts, even mere kissing and touching. The law introduces jail terms of five to seven years for promoting homosexuality, including advocating LGBT rights or assisting LGBT people or events.

The UK and US governments, criticised the move along with business magnate and investor Sir Richard Branson – who has urged for a corporate boycott of Uganda.

Speaking at a Christmas prayers event, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said he would push the bill back to Parliament if he did not agree with it.

However, President Museveni is facing intense pressure from Ugandan MPs to sign the bill.

It is possible for parliamentary supporters of the bill to bypass the need for presidential approval if a further vote is tabled. They require a two-thirds majority.

LGBT campaigners will stage a protest on 8 January outside the Ugandan High Commission in London’s Trafalgar Square.