The Prime Minister of Uganda, Amama Mbabazi, has said that gay citizens should not be imprisoned under the country’s anti-homosexuality bill. Why? Because being gay is an “abnormality.”
“I think in our tradition, homosexuality is treated as an abnormality,” said Mbabazi. “Given that as a fact, the question is how do we treat abnormalities in our society. Do we kill them?”
The 64-year-old has been the Prime Minister since May 2011, and he has also served as the Secretary General of the National Resistance Movement since 2005.
While his words defend LGBT Ugandans from possible life in imprisonment and death, I wouldn’t be too quick to label Mbabazi as an advocate. Not only does he believe homosexuality to be abnormal, he compares it to “mongolism”—a derogatory term for Down syndrome.
Mbabazi continued, “If you identify an abnormality and you say, ‘Let’s kill homos,’ then my conclusion is that you are the one that is abnormal. They need help. How do you treat your children who are born as mongols? Do you execute them, imprison them for life?”
The bill, which formerly included the death penalty as a punishment, has yet to be signed by President Yoweri Museveni. Should it receive his signature, all homosexual activity, including kissing and touching, will become illegal.
“I like to think before acting,” said Museveni. “This is not a simple matter, which I can just rush into. If the MPs bring it to me, I will first analyze it… and see how to handle it.”
Many suspect that Museveni, a devout Evangelical Christian, is likely to sign the bill. But the president says he will decide after sufficient deliberation.
“I will first go through it. If I find that it is right, I will sign. But if I find that it is not right, I will send it back to Parliament,” said Museveni.
With the spread of Christianity, Uganda’s homophobia has only grown stronger. Hate crimes are rampant, including reports of lesbians being targeted for “corrective” rapes. In 2011, activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death after a Ugandan newspaper printed his name in an article titled “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak.” It included a list of names, addresses, and photographs, along with a banner that read “Hang Them.”