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Signing of anti-gay law brings fears of violence against gays in Uganda

Monday - 2/24/2014, 5:50pm  ET

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) -- An international gay rights organization says countries that have implemented anti-gay legislation have seen a surge in violence against individuals who are believed to be gay.

The concern is that the same thing will now happen in Uganda, where the president today signed a measure calling for harsh penalties for offenses including repeated gay sex between consenting adults. Gay rights advocates say the Ugandan government hasn't indicated that it would do anything to respond to anti-gay violence.

Uganda's president said the bill was needed because the West is promoting homosexuality in Africa. Nigeria's president signed an anti-gay bill into law just over a month ago, sparking increased violence against gays.

The Ugandan law calls for first-time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in jail. Life in prison is the maximum penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," including repeated gay sex between consenting adults.

The European Union's foreign policy chief says she's "deeply concerned" by what she calls "draconian" legislation to criminalize homosexuality. But some EU officials have warned against cutting development aid to Uganda, since that would harm Ugandans.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jay Carney called the law "abhorrent" and called for its repeal. He said the White House is reviewing its relationship with Uganda.

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204-a-14-(Brian Silva, executive director, Marriage Equality USA, in AP interview)-"around the world"-Marriage Equality USA Executive Director Brian Silva says the new law in Uganda is a big setback. (24 Feb 2014)

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205-a-09-(Brian Silva, executive director, Marriage Equality USA, in AP interview)-"a wakeup call"-Marriage Equality USA Executive Director Brian Silva says he hopes the new law will help mobilize support for gay rights. (24 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO NAI102: Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni signs a new anti-gay bill that sets harsh penalties for homosexual sex, in Entebbe, Uganda Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Museveni on Monday signed the controversial anti-gay bill into law, with penalties including 14 years in jail for first-time offenders and life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for "aggravated homosexuality", saying it is needed to deter what he called the West's "social imperialism" promoting homosexuality in Africa. (AP Photo/Rebecca Vassie) (24 Feb 2014)

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