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Uganda's Museveni to sign anti-gay bill - government spokesman

Source: Reuters - Mon, 24 Feb 2014 05:28 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Members of religious groups campaigning against homosexuality hold placards during a rally in Kampala August 21, 2007. REUTERS/James Akena
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KAMPALA, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will on Monday sign a controversial anti-homosexuality bill which Western countries have criticised and tried to stop from being signed into law, a Ugandan government spokesman said.

Homosexuality is taboo in African countries and illegal in 37. Few Africans are openly gay, as they fear imprisonment, violence and loss of their jobs.

"The president is signing the anti-homosexuality bill today at 11 (0800 GMT). He wants to sign it with the full witness of the international media to demonstrate Uganda's independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation," Ugandan Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told Reuters.

Museveni's decision to sign the bill comes less than a week since he announced plans to put the bill on hold to give scientists a chance to prove that homosexuality could be triggered by genes and is not a "lifestyle choice".

Museveni's announcement to delay the bill was seen as an attempt to appease the major aid donor United States, coming only days after President Barack Obama warned that the bill would complicate U.S. relations with Uganda.

Uganda is a key Western ally in the fight against Islamic extremism in Somalia where Ugandan troops have formed the backbone of the African Union peacekeeping force battling al Qaeda-aligned militants.

Obama's comment that the anti-gay bill is a "step backward for all Ugandans" has been disputed by Ugandan officials who say the United States is blackmailing the east African country which gets about $400 million annually in aid from Washington.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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