Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni made homosexuality a crime potentially punishable by life sentence, signing a law Monday that targeted those directly engaging in same-sex relations — which can mean touching another person “with the intent of committing the act of homosexuality” — as well as those who “promote” homosexuality or perform gay marriage ceremonies.

Museveni was operating under the premise that homosexuality can be learned (and thus unlearned, particularly under threat of punishment); previously, he had suggested that he would wait to sign the bill until the U.S. could prove that people can be “born homosexual.” The BBC brought word of the law’s details that day:

The bill signed by Mr Museveni, and seen by the BBC, is significantly different to what was initially reported on Monday – and has been watered down, they say.

The new law allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality” and also criminalises the “promotion” of homosexuality”, where activists encourage others to come out.

Earlier drafts of the bill made it a crime not to report gay people – in effect making it impossible to live as openly gay – but this clause has been removed.

Lesbians are covered by the bill for the first time.

The death penalty was not counted among the bill’s specified punishments but was included in an earlier version of the legislation. Opponents of the measure are mobilizing to do battle in court, and President Obama has indicated that there may be diplomatic fallout in the wake of its passage.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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