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The bill in its original draft called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts. That penalty was removed from the legislation following an international outcry.

The bill is widely popular in Uganda, where it has been championed by Christian clerics and many politicians. Ugandan schoolchildren from various schools in the capital, Kampala, celebrated after Museveni signed the bill. With big smiles on their faces and arms stretched in jubilation, they held placards including one that said “Obama leave us alone: Homosexuals have no room in Uganda.”

The anti-gay measure was introduced in 2009 by a lawmaker with the ruling party who said the law was necessary to deter Western homosexuals from “recruiting” Ugandan children.

That legislator, David Bahati, said Monday that the bill’s enactment is “a triumph of our sovereignty, a victory for the people of Uganda, the children of Uganda.”

Several Ugandan gays say Bahati and other political leaders were influenced by conservative U.S. evangelicals who wanted to spread their anti-gay agenda in Africa.