Uganda approves life in prison for ‘aggravated homosexuality’

Uganda's parliament on Friday approved life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality.”

The measure must still be signed by President Yoweri Museveni to take effect. The president has said there will be further “consultations” before a decision is made.

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Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi opposed the vote, claiming the parliament lacked a quorum, though it was unclear what the objection might mean for the final outcome.

According to the measure, a homosexuality offense is aggravated if one of the partners has HIV, if the act is performed with a minor or disabled person, if drugs were used to incapacitate another person, or if one is a repeat offender.

The bill also bans the promotion of homosexuality, and punishes those who purport to perform a same-sex marriage with up to seven years imprisonment.

“I am officially illegal,” Ugandan gay rights activist Frank Mugisha told Agence France-Presse following the vote.

A version of the bill proposed in 2009 had ordered the death penalty for aggravated offenses, but the final version removes that provision.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) reacted quickly to the news, tweeting that he was “saddened” to see the Uganda approve the law.

Uganda has always had a ban on homosexuality, inheriting a now-repealed British law from its days as a colony.

The prolonged campaign in Uganda to strengthen its anti-homosexuality laws has brought condemnation from around the world, with President Obama once describing the effort as “odious.”

Criticism of Uganda has occasionally roped in Americans.

Evangelical activist Scott Lively, president of Abiding Truth Ministries, was sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of Ugandan gay activists who say his advocacy for criminalizing “public advocacy of homosexuality” has deprived them of their human rights.

The law is not the first one in 2013 to draw global attention from gay rights activists.

Last summer, Russia enacted a ban on homosexual "propaganda" which drew condemnations from many world leaders, and is believed to be a major reason world leaders such as President Obama are planning to skip the opening and closing ceremonies of February's Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi.