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Rejected! Even Uganda’s President Dislikes the Anti-Gay Bill

Rejected! Even Uganda’s President Dislikes the Anti-Gay Bill

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has refused to sign Uganda’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality bill, returning it to parliament. Why did he decide on this course of action, and what does it mean for the future of the bill?

Museveni had previously told parliament he would not sign the bill until the government had been given an appropriate length of time to study the issue. This was widely interpreted to mean the bill would not be allowed to pass until international attention had died down.

In an eight page letter to MPs that was released this week, Museveni again rejected the bill. He challenged  that the chamber passed the bill without quorum, or the minimum representative number of lawmakers in attendance, and that this alone should be enough to challenge the bill:

“Some elements, however, insisted and even without quorum of Parliament, passed it,” he writes. “How can you pass law without the quorum of Parliament after it has been pointed out? What sort of Parliament is this? How can Parliament be the one to break the Constitution and the Law repeatedly?”

Museveni, terming homosexual citizens as “abnormal” and later as prone to “mercenary” acts certainly hasn’t changed his opinion of gay people, but: “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?” These are questions, Museveni contends, that need further study.

At the same time, he also rallies against the idea of gay rights, saying, “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.” Museveni also made it known he believes women may become lesbians due to “sexual starvation.”

However, Museveni’s letter is at least marginally encouraging in that it appears to show he has little appetite for the current bill. Rather, he seems to want to attempt to “reform” homosexuals. That could potentially be as dangerous as the bill before parliament now, but that’s a fight for a different time.

In closing, Museveni says he does support life in prison for men and women engaging in sexual relationships with minors, and particularly if those constitute homosexual acts, but that he wants the NRM Caucus to “find a scientifically correct position” on the legislation (whatever that is meant to mean) before further action is taken. So what does this mean for Uganda’s “Jail the Gays” bill?

To be clear, Museveni has not vetoed the bill. The country’s constitution does not give him that power. Instead, he has returned the bill to parliament to be reviewed and changed. It is usually the case that parliament will debate the bill and consider what Museveni has outlined. Yet, if lawmakers can muster a two-thirds majority they can override the need for Museveni’s approval on the bill. Will they do that? It’s likely that lawmakers will want to wait before acting, at least until the mentioned caucus takes place later this month. However, we know that there is a great deal of support for the bill and that some lawmakers are lobbying hard to get it through parliament. This is a reprieve, then, and not the end of the matter.

While the bill no longer advocates for the death penalty, it remains abhorrent in several respects, including carrying a jail term for “aggravated homosexuality,” and fines and prison time for failing to tell the authorities about someone who is just suspected of being gay. As such, international human rights commentators are urging that we do not stop pressing Uganda to abandon this odious bill.

Care2 Success: More than 46,000 Care2 members have signed a petition calling on President Museveni to reject the bill. Thank you to everyone who signed but please keep passing this petition around and make sure Uganda knows that no watering down of the bill could ever make it acceptable!

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Photo credit: Thinkstock.

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76 comments

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2:39PM PST on Jan 29, 2014

Good news!

3:49PM PST on Jan 24, 2014

and there you have it , more products of christian teachings . lies deception and control is all religion be good for.

10:09PM PST on Jan 23, 2014

It's a crime to not report to authorities that you suspect someone is gay? I see the potential for everyone who has a grudge against someone else running to the authorities to maliciously report suspicions of homosexuality. Harassment moves to a whole new level.

3:05AM PST on Jan 22, 2014

"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.” Museveni also made it known he believes women may become lesbians due to “sexual starvation.”


Could sound very funny if it wasn't pretty scary, it's like in the Middleages :-(
That he dislikes the bill doesn't mean anything at all...
To change the mentalities will be a hard work of education... but in Africa, the missions did such a good job that they can be more christian then the christians in Europe. But wait... in Eastern Europe, it's the same! and even in other countries (see France!!! yuck)

2:08PM PST on Jan 20, 2014

sounds better than it did

10:30AM PST on Jan 20, 2014

Good

10:45PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

WOW,Scary! It's like a Witch Hunt,tell on a person who is Gay,so they can be imprisoned,fined or Killed! I feel so Bad for anyone who has to Live with the FEAR of living their own life in this country ! What your Sexual orientation is,shouldn't be anyones business ,but your own ! What You do in your own bedroom shouldn't be a Prison sentence or the Death penalty ! I Hope Museveni's can Open his Heart and Mind to understand everyone is different ! Just SAD ! :(

7:27PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

Woo, good to hear. One step at a time, right?

6:25PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

Such ignorance is horrifying.

5:03PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

Teaching and practicing tolerance and seeking commonality is the only way we will survive I believe.

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