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Obama Condemns Uganda Law Criminalizing Homosexuality

FILE - An asylum seeker from Uganda covers his face with a paper bag to protect his identity as he marches at a Gay Pride Parade in Boston, Massachusetts, June 8, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama says he is "deeply disappointed" that Uganda is about to enact legislation criminalizing homosexuality.

In a statement Sunday, Obama said Uganda's anti-homosexuality law would be a "step backward ... and reflect poorly" on the African nation's "commitment to protecting the human rights of its people."

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told members of his party on Friday that he will sign the law. It calls for harsh sentences for homosexuality, including life imprisonment for what it describes as aggravated homosexuality. Homosexuality is illegal in 37 African nations.

President Obama said the U.S. has told Museveni that enacting the anti-gay measure "will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda," but did not say how.

Obama said he salutes Ugandans and people around the world who support the "fundamental human dignity of all persons."

The U.S. is in the midst of an extended debate over same-sex marriage rights, which Obama supports.

Seventeen of the 50 U.S. states have legalized same-sex marriage, and several judges have overturned bans on same-sex marriages in other states. Appeals of the decisions have yet to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.