Uganda’s President told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that homosexuality is a western import and claimed that gay people rarely face discrimination in the African nation. “I want to inform the world that those homosexuals were not killed as some people are claiming,” Yoweri Museveni said. “We never exhibit our sexual acts in public. I have — I have, for instance, never kissed my wife in public…Therefore, the problem with exhibitionism and the second problem would be trying to lure young children into homosexuality”:
AMANPOUR: As you know, the rest of the world, certainly the Western world, doesn’t agree with you on this. And there was a major public outcry, a major international outcry when this first homosexual bill went through, anti-homosexual bill, that included the death penalty….I mean, do you — is that acceptable in your country?
MUSEVENI: What does the world not agree with us about? Because I have told you, there is no discrimination. There is no persecution. Certainly there is no killing. The only thing that is controversial, not only for homosexuals, but for all forms of sexual acts, is exhibitionism. You don’t kiss in public, whether you are gay or not. [...]
AMANPOUR: David Cato, a famous homosexual activist, was beaten to death in Uganda, according to press reports.
MUSEVENI: That is (inaudible) was not killed for being a homosexual. He was killed for something else.
AMANPOUR: What were those other reasons?
MUSEVENI: Well, I did not check with the police before I came here, but he had some personal quarrels (ph) with some of his partners.
In 2010, a Ugandan newspaper published the names and photos of the 100 “top” gays and lesbians, resulting in attacks against at least four Ugandans. In January of 2011, David Kato — a prominent activist — was found dead.
Polls still show that 95 percent of Ugandans favor criminalizing homosexuality — and many back the infamous “kill gays bill.” However, equality activists believe that steady growth of public advocacy for gender issues is showing progress. A recent march organized by Sexual Minorities Uganda, for instance, had 30 participants, as opposed to just four at a similar march four years ago. Activist Frank Mugisha points out that the mere fact the nation is having a national conversation about the issue of homosexuality — hostile though it may be — represents a change from a time when it was so taboo people would not even talk about it.