EU foreign policy chief slams Ugandan President for signing ‘draconian’ anti-gay law

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EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton has condemned the President of Uganda for signing the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, describing the move as “draconian”.

President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill in front of politicians and reporters on Monday at 1.54pm (10.54am GMT) at State House, his official residence in Entebbe.

He blamed the West over his decision to sign the bill.

“I am deeply concerned about the news that Uganda will enact draconian legislation to criminalise homosexuality”, Baroness Ashton said in a statement.

“The EU deplores discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. It is firmly committed to fundamental human rights and the rule of law in respect of those rights, including freedom of association, conscience and speech and the equality of persons.

“Uganda has binding international human-rights obligations. With this in mind, it is important that the anti-homosexuality law be thoroughly examined on the basis of those commitments and its constitutionality.”

She added: “I call on the Ugandan authorities to be guided by dialogue, tolerance and the respect for the dignity of all people.”

The Chair of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS has also criticised President Museveni.

In a statement, Labour MP Pamela Nash said the move would hamper the country’s fight against HIV.

“Men who have sex with men are 13 times more likely to contract HIV than the general population,” the MP said.

“By criminalising homosexuality the Ugandan Government is putting the AIDS response in real danger. Given that the Ugandan Government is already failing to keep the epidemic under control, now is not the time to be implementing harmful legislation.

“It is well documented that this approach will threaten public health efforts and the UK Government needs to speak out urgently against it.”

In December last year, Uganda’s Parliament passed legislation to toughen the punishment for same-sex sexual activity.

The new law punishes repeat offenders with 14 years in jail, and allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality”.

It also makes it a crime not to report gay people to the authorities. Lesbians are covered by the bill for the first time.