Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the law, which toughens criminal penalties against gays and lesbians -- including lifetime sentences for some acts -- into effect early Monday.
“Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward by signing into law legislation criminalizing homosexuality,” said the White House in a statement.
“As President Obama has said, this law is more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda, it reflects poorly on the country's commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and will undermine public health, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS,” the statement added. “We will continue to urge the Ugandan government to repeal this abhorrent law and to advocate for the protection of the universal human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda and around the world.”
Museveni said Monday that he would not allow western nations to pressure him into repealing the law, according to reports.
The law provides a lifetime jail sentence for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.” Human rights groups also say a provision that criminalizes groups that seek to help gays will undercut public health efforts.
Obama has been a vocal advocate of gay rights in office, becoming the first sitting president to endorse same-sex marriage.
The president has also sharply criticized anti-gay legislation in other countries, saying he disapproved of a Russian law which criminalizes teaching about homosexuality.
Obama, though, declined calls for gay-rights groups to boycott the Winter Olympic Games, which were held in Sochi, Russia, choosing instead to select openly gay athletes as part of his presidential delegation.
In an interview before the Olympics, Obama said there was “no doubt” he intended to send a message with his delegation.