According to Ugandan news site the Daily Monitor, the country’s president Yoweri Museveni is refusing to sign into law its recently passed anti-gay bill.
Museveni has allegedly confronted Speaker Rebecca Kadaga for bringing it up for a vote on December 20, although it wasn’t on the scheduled agenda for the day; even the president’s representative was caught by surprise. Buzzfeed reported that the representative attempted to prevent the surprise vote with a quorum call, but the request was ignored.
In an article published on January 17, the Daily Monitor reported that Museveni wrote an eight-page letter, dated December 28, 2013, to Uganda’s Parliament, in which he claimed the bill was forced through against his wishes by “a small group of our MPs, led by [Speaker] Kadaga,” even though Museveni had advised that it first be studied in depth by government officials before being put to a vote. The article’s claims have not been confirmed by any other sources.
Though the bill originally included the death penalty as a potential punishment for homosexual activity, earning it the nickname “Kill the Gays” bill, it was removed in the final version.
Museveni, a devout Christian, has expressed the view that being gay is “abnormal,” but can be “fixed.” The Daily Monitor did not post the entirety of Museveni’s letter, but instead largely summarized:
The President said a homosexual is somebody who is abnormal because the normal person was created to be attracted to the opposite sex in order to procreate and perpetuate the human race. He said, nature goes wrong in a minority of cases.
While in the Bill passed by Parliament there is no provision for killing homosexuals; the President said, “The question at the core of the debate of homosexuality is; what do we do with an abnormal person? Do we kill him/her? Do we imprison him/her? Or we do contain him/her?”
While the President said homosexuality is an abnormal condition that can be cured, he disagreed with the position of Western countries that homosexuality is an “alternative sexual orientation.” “You cannot call an abnormality an alternative orientation. It could be that the Western societies, on account of random breeding, have generated many abnormal people,” he said, adding that his acid test for rejecting Western position is that nature is purposeful.
The President said apart from the people who are abnormal, it seems there is a group of those that become homosexual for “mercenary reasons”—they get recruited on account of financial inducements. He said this is a group that can be rescued and that many of the youth fall in this category.
As for lesbians, the President said apart from those born abnormal and those ones that may become lesbian for mercenary reasons, there may be those that go into the practice because of “sexual starvation” when they fail to get married.
The President said the rescue for homosexuals is first and foremost, economic, focusing on rapidly industrialised Uganda, modernisation of agriculture etc. By delaying government projects needed to create jobs for the unemployed youth, the President said the MPs are exposing the unemployed youth or “impecunious students” to the risks of homosexuality and other temptations.
“Even with legislation, they will simply go underground and continue practicing homosexuality or lesbianism for mercenary reasons,” he said.
The President said he would support a life sentence for one who lures normal youth into “these disgusting behaviours”–especially homosexuality. He said the NRM Caucus will find a scientifically correct position on the proposed anti-gay legislation.
What this means for LGBT Ugandans is uncertain, especially since it’s not known if or when Museveni sent the bill back to Parliament. Box Turtle Bulletin editor Jim Burroway posted:
According to Uganda’s Constitution, the President can send the bill back to Parliament twice before Parliament must muster a two-thirds majority to force the bill into law. What remains unclear is whether this constitutes the bill’s first return trip to Parliament under the constitution if Parliament didn’t have the proper quorum to pass the bill in the first place…I think more clarification and confirmation is in order before we celebrate.