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ANTI-GAY LEGISLATION: Uganda President Vows To Sign Controversial Bill

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KAMPALA, Uganda (CNN) — Uganda’s president Saturday vowed to sign sweeping anti-gay legislation, citing what he said were scientific, not political, considerations for a controversial measure in a country that already criminalizes homosexuality.

In a statement, President Yoweri Museveni declared debate on the legislation over and said he was not concerned about the expected international outcry. His remarks, made during a conference of the ruling National Resistance Movement, drew loud applause from supporters.

“We shall have a war with the homosexual lobby in the world, but backed by these people (scientists) and you,” he told supporters.

A Ugandan lawmaker first introduced the bill in 2009 with a death penalty clause for some homosexual acts. It was briefly shelved when Britain and other European nations threatened to withdraw aid to Uganda, which relies on millions of dollars from the international community.

The nation’s parliament passed the bill in December, supplanting the death penalty provision with a proposal of life in prison for “aggravated homosexuality.” It includes acts where one person is infected with HIV, “serial offenders” and sex with minors, Amnesty International said.

In cases where one has HIV, the punishment applies even when the sex is consensual or protected.

Museveni said that scientists examining the issue determined there was no gene for homosexuality and that it was merely abnormal behavior. He said in a statement that he sought “a scientific … not a political answer. Let the scientists answer this. And according to the way they have answered it, if they mislead us, they are the ones who are responsible.”

He said, “The question I put to them was, are there people born like this? Now they are saying they are no such people.”

According to Amnesty International, the bill’s definition of “aggravated homosexuality” includes acts in which a person is infected with HIV, “serial offenders” and sex with minors.

The bill also proposed years in prison for anyone who counsels or reaches out to gays and lesbians, a provision that would ensnare rights groups and others providing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries, where sodomy laws were introduced during colonialism. According to Amnesty International, homosexuality is illegal in 38 of 54 African countries. In Uganda, homosexual acts are punishable by 14 years to life in prison, according to rights activists.

But lawmakers in the conservative nation sought tougher legislation, saying the influence of Western lifestyles risks destroying family units.

Homosexuality is taboo in African countries and activists say few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and loss of their jobs.

Museveni appears to be balancing the desire to please a conservative constituency vehemently opposed to homosexuality with hopes of not alienating Western aid donors to the east African country.

Last month, he declined to sign the bill, but the move was not designed to protect the civil rights of gays and lesbians. Museveni believed that Parliament illegally passed the bill, and gays and lesbians are “sick people who need help,” his spokesman said at the time.

The president had sent a letter to the speaker of Parliament, saying that he couldn’t sign the bill because there weren’t enough Parliament members present when it was passed.

“Homosexuals need help. They are sick,” spokesman Tamale Mirundi said, explaining the president’s thinking. “Homosexuals were present in Africa in the past and were not persecuted.”

At the ruling party conference this week, however, Museveni said he was persuaded of the need to sign the bill by his scientific advisers, who cited, among other reasons, the “serious public health consequences” of homosexuality.

Where last month, the president, through his spokesman, seemed to perceive homosexuality as an illness, now Museveni seemed to be following the lead of a government committee that declared Friday that homosexuality is “not a disease but merely an abnormal behavior which may be learned through experiences in life.”

In a statement, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights said the bill would “place the lives of countless Ugandans at risk” and “had already intensified the climate of hatred and persecution” against gay people in Uganda.

“The international community has a legal and moral obligation to prevent this law from being implemented,” the center said.


  • josh Kutchinsky

    Poor science + disregard for human rights = an impoverished Uganda
    There were nazi scientists who ‘proved’ the inferiority of blacks and Jews . The legacy of President Musseveni and this pernicious law will haunt Uganda. So sad and bad.

  • Ron

    It seems reporters are reporting on the press release by the government and not the actual findings of the report. It has serious flaws, but here are its findings:

    a) There is no definitive gene responsible for homosexuality
    b) Homosexuality is not a disease
    c) Homosexuality is not an abnormality
    d) In every society, there is a small number of people with homosexual
    e) Homosexuality can be influenced by environmental factors (e.g. culture, religion, information, peer pressure)

    • Josh kutchinsky

      The statement is not scientific simply because it calls itself so? In addition to conclusion (e), there are
      (f) the practice needs regulation like any other human behaviour, especially to protect the vulnerable.
      (g) there is a need to study sexualities especially in the African context.

      These three last conclusions are not sound.

      (e) is meaningless because it is so general. Every human behaviour is influenced by environmental factors. If one substitutes ‘heterosexual’ or for that matter ‘eating’ for the word ‘homosexual’ it is apparent that the statement remains correct. However only if one were to make clear in what way behaviours can be affected and what the advantages or disadvantages would be might it have any value. If there is no food available then people won’t eat – not a good thing! If women and men are kept apart there will be no heterosexual sex etc.
      (f) Clearly not all human behaviours require regulation. Are there regulations for breast feeding? Are there regulations for drinking water or smiling. No evidence has been produced that homosexuals are a danger to the vulnerable in any way differently from heterosexuals. Children need protection as do adults from violence and abuse from wherever it comes. No evidence has been provided as to why there needs to be special legislation for homosexual behaviour.
      (g) what is the relevance of this last ‘conclusion’. What studies of what exactly and to prove or demonstrate what?

      Conclusions (a)-(d) are almost certainly correct and lead clearly to the need to decriminalise homosexuality. For any study of the effects of such legislation will show how much damage is done to individuals and society.

      Uganda will be impoverished by this law. It is discriminatory and contravenes Uganda’s constitution and international commitments. This report provides absolutely no satisfactory reason why Uganda’s citizens should be so regulated.

  • William Denison

    Ever notice the GOP always has to fight some self made demon or make up some kind of drama and then drag everyone else into it?

  • Samuel Namema

    Whatever thing we do lets think about the morality of it and should be of great beneficial to the society.Should we steal coz it makes a thieve to have what he dont have?

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