Obama issues stern statement to Uganda about anti-gay bill

BY Kayla Ruble  February 16, 2014 at 4:39 PM EST
Photo taken on February 14, 2010 shows Ugandans taking part in an anti-gay demonstrationy at Jinja, Kampala. A Ugandan pastor seeking to bolster Uganda's anti-gay laws which already make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment screened gay porn in a packed Kampala church Wednesday February 17, 2010 in a bid to drum up support that was attended by around 300 supporters after plans for a 'million-man march' were thwarted by police. AFP PHOTO/TREVOR SNAPP (Photo credit should read Trevor Snapp/AFP/Getty Images)


Ugandans participate in an anti-gay demonstration in 2010. Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has pledged to sign a bill into law that would set harsh prison time for some homosexual acts. Credit: Trevor Snapp/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama has strongly rebuked Ugandan plans to enact anti-gay legislation that would set harsh prison sentences for some homosexual acts.

In a written statement released Sunday, Mr. Obama said enacting the law would complicate Uganda’s relations with the U.S.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda. It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people,” he said.

The legislation recommends life imprisonment for certain homosexual acts. Homosexuality is already illegal in the East African country.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has pledged to sign the bill into law.

When the legislation was initially proposed in 2009, it received international criticism for prescribing the death penalty for homosexual acts. The bill was later amended to recommend jail time and life imprisonment in lieu of a death sentence.

The updated version was passed by Ugandan lawmakers in December.