CREDIT: AP Photo/Rebecca Vassie
Last week, it seemed like Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was delaying taking action on the infamous anti-homosexuality bill, suggesting he was interested in hearing from more U.S. scientists about the nature of homosexuality. On Monday, though, he signed the bill into law.
The law, often referred to as the “Kill the Gays” bill because previous versions of it included the death penalty, allows for a lifetime jail sentence for people found guilty of being gay. Some more recent versions of the bill have still included reference to a different law that did allow for the death penalty. First-time offenders can be punished with 14 years in jail. Those who promote LGBT issues would also be in violation of the law, as would anybody who officiates a same-sex marriage.
Museveni explained that he signed the bill because he was concerned that gay people were “recruiting normal people” into homosexuality, using them as prostitutes, and exhibiting themselves. His statement suggests he was fully convinced by the distorted report from Ugandan scientists submitted suggesting that homosexuality as either an “open choice” or something caused by “indoctrination.” He seemed to suggest that any form of public display of affection is inappropriate, but all the more reason that gay people who hold hands or kiss in public should be punished if they cannot be rehabilitated:
Since nurture is the main cause of homosexuality, then society can do something about it to discourage the trends. That is why I have agreed to sign the Bill. [...]
Since my original thesis that there may be people who are born homosexual has been disproved by science, then the homosexuals have lost the argument in Uganda. They should rehabilitate themselves and society should assist them to do so.
President Obama condemned Museveni’s decision to sign the bill last week, noting that it will “complicate our valued relationship with Uganda.” On Twitter, Ofwono Opondo, an official spokesperson for the Ugandan government, accused Obama of being arrogant, chiding him for criticizing Uganda’s law more than he has Arizona’s bill allowing religious discrimination against the LGBT community. “Propaganda for blackmail against anti-gay law by European & US media,” he wrote, “won’t derail Pres Museveni signing.”
It was five years ago today that U.S. evangelicals announced they would be traveling to Uganda to promote their anti-gay views. Among those who participated in the conference were two ex-gay therapists and Scott Lively, who has argued that gay people were responsible for the Holocaust (despite being victims thereof). A suit against Lively filed by Ugandan LGBT activists for crimes against humanity is proceeding in U.S. courts.
Here is the full text of the new law: