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Ugandan lawmakers pass new version of tough anti-gay bill


KAMPALA, Uganda — Ugandan lawmakers on Tuesday passed a new version of an anti-gay bill that removes a clause that appeared to criminalize identifying as LGBTQ.

Last month, President Yoweri Museveni sent the bill back to the National Assembly, asking for changes that differentiate between identifying as LGBTQ and practicing homosexual acts.

Homosexuality is already illegal in the East African country under a colonial-era law criminalizing sexual acts “against the order of nature”. The penalty for this offense is life imprisonment.

The new law provides for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, which is defined as cases of sexual relations involving people living with HIV as well as minors and other categories of vulnerable people.

A suspect convicted of “aggravated homosexuality attempt” can be jailed for 14 years and the offense of “attempting homosexuality” carries a sentence of up to 10 years, according to the bill.

Although the law no longer criminalizes those who identify as LGBTQ, prison terms of up to 20 years are proposed for those who defend or promote the rights of LGBTQ people.

The bill passed by lawmakers on Tuesday will go to Museveni, who can sign it or veto it. It was not immediately clear what other changes lawmakers made to the bill during a lengthy plenary session in the capital, Kampala.

Museveni is under pressure from the international community to veto the legislation.

The United States has warned of economic consequences if the legislation is enacted, and a UN panel has described the bill previously passed by lawmakers as “a flagrant violation of human rights. “.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.